Robocall Mitigation Database: FCC launches new program to combat spam calls

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is rolling out a new program aimed at combating unwanted and malicious robocalls used to take advantage of consumers. 

The FCC program called STIR/SHAKEN is an identification framework used to protect consumers against robocalls and went into effect for major phone carriers on June 30. 

In April, the FCC launched the Robocall Mitigation Database in which voice service providers must file certifications to inform the agency of calls traveling through phone networks by using a form of caller identification. 

Calls are digitally validated by the new FCC program and if the calls are not authenticated by specific carriers that are on the Robocall Mitigation Database, they will not be able to pass through their intended network. 

This requires a phone company to verify that a call being received by a consumer is in fact from the number displayed on caller ID.

So far, more than 1,500 phone providers are filed in the database and over 200 providers have implemented STIR/SHAKEN in their service. 

According to the FTC and FCC, illegal robocalls cost Americans $10 billion a year in fraud and $3 billion a year in wasted time. Americans this year have received four billion robocalls a month, which is twice as many as they did five years ago.

YouMail, a robocall-prevention service reported in May, that in April alone, Americans received approximately 4.4 billion robocalls. This was a 10.3% decrease in volume over March, the company said. 

"June 30 is an important day in consumer protection history. The FCC action to thwart robocalls will rank up there with laws guaranteeing consumers access to their credit reports and eliminating abusive credit card practices," said Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog with the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. "Robocalls affect all of us. Thousands of people fall for scams each year that start with an illegal robocall and spoofed phone number."

The FCC explains that while on June 30, 2021, most of the nation’s largest phone providers implemented these new caller ID standards into their networks, smaller carriers will soon be required to follow suit. 

According to the FCC, small phone companies "must refuse to accept traffic from voice service providers not listed in the Robocall Mitigation Database," by Sept. 28. 

"While there is no silver bullet in the endless fight against scammers, STIR/SHAKEN will turbo-charge many of the tools we use in our fight against robocalls: from consumer apps and network-level blocking, to enforcement investigations and shutting down the gateways used by international robocall campaigns. This is a good day for American consumers who – like all of us – are sick and tired of illegal spoofed robocalls," the FCC wrote in a statement.