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Robocalling and Call Spoofing FAQs

Key Insights to Deliver Trusted Call Experiences

Impact for Carriers

Voice service providers have been directed by regulators to put measures in place to protect consumers and restore trust in answering calls. Many have efforts underway to mitigate illegal robocalls from going to their subscribers with call blocking and spam tagging techniques. To stop caller ID spoofing, the FCC and CRTC have demanded carriers implement robust caller ID authentication systems in 2019. In a recent webinar hosted by Neustar, Restore Trust in Phone Calls: Meeting the FCC Call to Action with STIR/SHAKEN, we shared important next steps for carriers in implementing call authentication.

Impact for Businesses

Despite the growth in digital communications, businesses still use phone calls to engage one-one-one with customers. But the increase in nuisance calls and calling fraud schemes has decreased contact and answer rates, and negatively impacted the customer experience and brand reputation has been damaged when scammers impersonate a business's identity. Call blocking and spam tagging put in place to protect subscribers have also meant that some legitimate business calls have been inadvertently blocked or tagged as suspicious. In a recent webinar Neustar hosted with Forrester Analyst Kate Leggett, How to Use Trusted Call Solutions to Drive Better Customer Experiences and Impact Operational Costs, we shared insights on what businesses can do improve outbound contact rates.

Below are some commonly asked questions from carriers and businesses in our webinars.

Frequently Asked Questions

Regulations & Standards

Does the FCC Call Blocking order stop all illegal calls?
The FCC Call Blocking Order, FCC Docket 17-59 released in November 2017, allows telecom service providers to block suspicious calls from invalid or unassigned numbers, including numbers with area codes that don't exist, that have not been allocated to a telecom service provider and numbers allocated but not currently in use.

What is optional and what is required for operators from the FCC Call Blocking ruling?
The FCC's Call Blocking Order is permissive. Service providers are permitted to block robocalls as described in the order, but they are not required to do so.

What happened to the Do Not Call lists? Why are these not used?
The Do Not Call (DNC) database is still in operation at the Federal Trade Commission. Legitimate robocallers still routinely check their planned calling lists against the DNC database. The challenge is that illegitimate callers, those with the intent to defraud, are unlikely to heed these lists.

This legal blocking is based on call origination number, not the recipient number, is that right? Can calls be blocked based on termination number?
The FCC's Call Blocking Order only addresses calls that appear to originate from invalid, unallocated, unassigned, or do-not-originate numbers. The FCC previously said, with the consent of a terminating subscriber, that carriers can block suspected robocalls from reaching that subscriber. In a sense, that is blocking based on the terminating number.

Is there a scenario where calls from legitimate phone numbers are blocked?
The FCC had previously said that with the consent of a terminating subscriber, carriers can block suspected robocalls from reaching that subscriber. So, if a carrier has permission from its subscriber, it can block calls that it suspects of being robocalls, some of which may be legitimate calls.

What is the penalty if a call is blocked by accident?
Since there is no safe harbor, a provider could be held liable for violating the FCC's call completion rules and could be subject to monetary penalties.


Best Practices & Solutions

As a business, what do consumers see on their caller ID display when we call?
Typically, caller ID displays some form of the business name and phone number. While most businesses publish a few phone numbers for main contacts, such as their customer service line, they often have hundreds or even thousands of internal phone extensions and corporate mobiles that do not display the correct information for outbound calls. These may appear as just a phone number, some version of your business name, or just "UNAVAILABLE" or "UNKNOWN CALLER". The call could also be inadvertently tagged as "SUSPECT SPAM".

How can we manage the calling name and number displayed for our outbound business calls?
Displaying an accurate and consistent caller identity gives customers more confidence knowing who is calling and helps them make the decision to answer the call. Telecom service providers that "own" the phone number manage caller ID information, but the information may not be updated when the number changes hands. Neustar's Caller Name Optimization Consider helps businesses update and manage what is displayed on their outbound calls. Neustar provides 90% of caller ID to the industry and works with over 850 fixed, cable and mobile operators to ensure accurate first party information is displayed across landline, VoIP, cable and mobile caller ID.

If the caller ID display is incorrect, or missing, for our calls to customers can't we just have our telecom service provider fix it?
Multiple telecom service providers participate in the delivery of services for those your business calls. To have a consistent caller ID, you would have to provide all of the business phone numbers that you use to make calls, to every service provider that helps with delivery of those calls, so they can associate your business name to each of those numbers. Neustar provides a single interface to over 850 carriers to simplify management and ensure consistency for caller ID.

How do we prevent our business calls from being blocked or marked as spam?
In many cases, businesses are not even aware their outbound calls are being tagged as 'spam' or blocked entirely. By providing your list of outbound calling numbers as verified business numbers across the call ecosystem, Neustar can help prevent accidental blocking or inaccurate spam tagging. Neustar is able to validate individual telephone numbers against our Robocall Mitigation fraud model and to work with partners to understand the 'reputation' of a telephone number (TN) - to see if a particular TN has previously been tagged as having been used for nefarious or fraudulent activities. Legitimate business telephone numbers (TNs) managed through Neustar's central hub, are distributed throughout the voice ecosystem (e.g. Mobile Operators, Mobile App providers).

How do we get our number removed from mobile spam apps?
Neustar operates the largest Caller Identity database in the United States, serving major wireline, wireless, cable and VoIP CSPs, as well as the leading caller ID mobile apps, we are well positioned as a central hub to disseminate information regarding legitimate outbound business dialing. We currently have agreements to do so with the largest mobile operators and app providers in the US and continue to build out these capabilities throughout the wider voice ecosystem.

If we use a dedicated inbound call back number for outbound calls, and this dedicated call back/inbound number is listed as a DNO (do-not-originate) number, would our outbound call be blocked/potentially blocked even though it's actually originating on a valid outbound number?
DNO numbers fall within the FCC guidelines for allowable fraud tagging and blocking. It would be up to individual carrier policy whether the call is actually blocked, or potentially overlaid with some indication to the subscriber that the call is potentially fraudulent in some manner.

When preference management exists at the origination level, say a big box retailer, does call blocking over-ride the original permission given by the consumer?
The voice network would not have any visibility to the originating preference management setting, meaning it is likely that any calls originated from this system would fall into existing analytics and algorithms for spam tagging and blocking.

Would you recommend that a business using a call blocking service for their customers block their own Do-Not-Originate numbers to mitigate fraud? Can you expand on how to avoid blocking a number that violates the FCC's order?
It is always prudent to ensure a business's Do-Not-Originate (DNO) telephone numbers are protected against fraudulent activities. By registering these telephone numbers with a central repository such as Neustar's, these numbers would be shared with partners to ensure they would be flagged and/or blocked should any nefarious actors attempt to utilize them. The FCC rules currently allow blocking of calls from telephone numbers that are invalid, unallocated, allocated but unassigned and DNO.

If a number is ported to a different carrier and was set as a Do-Not-Originate number with the original carrier, will that tag be removed when the new carrier takes over the number?
Today, Do-Not-Originate (DNO) is a feature that can be set at the switch level to enable call blocking within the SS7 network. If a number ports to another carrier, the other carrier would have to set this same telephone number as DNO in their switch to keep the end subscriber from receiving spoofed calls. We are not aware of any "tag" that would follow the TN from network to network.

With regards to Robocall Mitigation with calculation of Fraud Score, how is call volume determined to be low, medium or high? For example, 10 calls per day might be "high" volume for my Aunt Edna but "low" volume for a law firm. Are call volume calculations on a per caller basis?
For the purposes of fraud scoring, volumes are based on prior patterns and trends for individual telephone numbers (TNs) over many years. As an example, a TN that typically makes 1000 calls per day, then suddenly jumps to 10,000 calls, would be suspect and captured in the fraud model/analytics program. Neustar is first and foremost an information services company, serving over 7,000+ of the world's largest brands and helping them to securely connect with their customers, tens of billions of times per day. As such, our fraud model does not rely on volumes alone, but verifies TN data with a myriad of related data points prior to scoring any particular TN.

 
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