FCC Robocall Summit: Your guide to new SHAKEN/STIR caller verification

Madeline Purdue


Published 1:00 PM EDT Jul 11, 2019

Today, a Robocall Summit hosted by the Federal Communications Commission will serve as a progress report on what major phone carriers are doing to protect you from those incessant robocalls interrupting your life.

All the major carriers will be there, along with other industry professionals. The people in the room all have a role in developing what's called the SHAKEN/STIR standard. But you dont have to attend to get a grasp of how SHAKEN/STIR is going to alert you to robocalls. (If you want, you can watch the live stream here.)

This is everything you need to know about SHAKEN/STIR:

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What is SHAKEN/STIR, anyway?

SHAKEN/STIR stands for Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited. It's a mouthful.

Dont worry, you dont have to remember what it stands for; just know that its meant to protect you from all these annoying calls.

Basically what SHAKEN/STIR does is verify calls that are coming to your phone. Robocallers have turned to “neighborhood spoofing” – or replicating a number within your area code that looks familiar to you so theres a better chance of picking up the phone. Once you pick up the phone, they know your line is active and, therefore, you are likely to get more calls.

How does it work?

SHAKEN/STIR will verify with a symbol such as a check mark or a company logo that the person calling you is, indeed, authentic and calling you from the number on your screen. While call verification doesnt block robocalls from reaching your phone, it gives you more information to make a decision to answer the call. It also tracks where the call is originating, identifying potential scammers.

The standard will not be a foolproof solution to robocalls on its own but will help deter them and with a combination of other tools, might put an end to them.

Who is going to get it?

The FCC mandated the major phone carriers uphold this new standard to not only verify the calls within their network but also the calls coming from other networks. Along with other industry professionals, such as robocall blocking technology developers, they are working on ways to limit consumers from receiving robocalls.

All of the providers have signaled their intent to meet the standard to the FCC but also currently provide tools to their customers to block robocalls. Unfortunately, SHAKEN/STIR also requires modern phone systems such as 4G to work, so older landlines will not have the protection.

When can we have this?

The FCC expects providers to have the SHAKEN/STIR standard implemented by the end of the year, and carriers are trying to validate calls from other networks by October. Effects can be seen now, as most providers offer free services that identify potential robocalls, like T-Mobiles scam likely feature.

Why are they doing this again?

Robocalls are the No. 1 consumer complaint to the FCC. Just in the month of June, Americans received 4.4 billion robocalls, according to YouMail. Robocall software is cheap and easy to operate, making it a simple way to scam people out of thousands of dollars.

Where can I get it?

Unfortunately, SHAKEN/STIR will only work in the U.S. because it is a U.S. solution. Even though a lot of robocall scams do come from outside the country, most illegal telemarketing originates from the U.S.

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