Blacklisted numbers impact how contact centers function. They have the ability to restrict both outbound and inbound traffic.
Today we take a broad look at blacklists and then specifically their role in the FCC’s STIR/SHAKEN framework, which is scheduled to go into effect coming up on June 30th for most voice service providers.
What is a blacklist?
A blacklist is a collection of numbers that are deemed sources of harassment or otherwise unwanted. Calls from these numbers can be blocked.
Blacklists ultimately work to stop unwanted calls from getting through to consumers. They aim to protect you from calls that are illegal or likely scams. Various consumer protection agencies have established rules for the creation of regulatory blacklists:
A few blacklists you might be familiar with:
- The FCC’s do not call list (DNC)
- Consent-based blacklists
All of the above rules place restrictions on who you can call. STIR/SHAKEN takes a technology-first approach, aiming to limit robocalls and caller ID spoofing through the use of caller ID authentication. With the STIR/SHAKEN framework in place, phone calls traveling through interconnected networks would need to be signed as legitimate by the originating carrier and then validated by other carriers before reaching consumers. This would enable a consumer—and their service provider—to know that the call they’re receiving has verified the number displayed on the Caller ID.
What is STIR/SHAKEN and how does it relate to blacklisted numbers?
Per the TRACED ACT set to take effect on June 30, 2021, STIR/SHAKEN stands for Secure Telephone Identity Revisited/Secure Handling of Asserted information using “toKENs.” It requires voice service providers to respond to the overwhelming amount of illegal robocalls.
STIR/SHAKEN doesn’t blacklist numbers but provides authentication for numbers. STIR/SHAKEN is a bit like a two-step authentication process for Caller ID. For each call, the originating service provider must verify the validity of the Caller ID being used in conjunction with the Calling Party using that Caller ID.” (This is the 2-step verification. Caller ID + Calling Party.). This is done by way of tokens. Tokens are issued to approved Service Providers to participate in the STIR/SHAKEN ecosystem of call authentication and verification by means of encryption and decryption methods.
When a call is placed, the originating carrier uses its assigned token to encrypt the verification information for the call. The terminating carrier or service provider on the receiving end of the call is tasked with decrypting the secure call information in order to read the verification information. The carrier or service provider on the receiving end of the call is tasked with further validation. They confirm the token’s value and have the ability to make a choice about whether or not to block a call.
With all this authentication and verification, carriers and service providers might choose to streamline this regulatory process by compiling a blacklist of numbers with low-value tokens. A blacklist of this nature would allow numbers known to be untrustworthy to be blocked automatically.
What can you do to make sure your calls are not blacklisted?
With consideration to the soon-to-be-implemented STIR/SHAKEN protocols, here are a few things you can do to make sure the numbers you are calling from aren’t blacklisted.
How do you verify and validate your numbers?
Carriers and service providers are at the forefront of the execution of the STIR/SHAKEN plan. In conjunction with STIR/SHAKEN call authentication and verification, they can also use data analytics to determine proper call treatment including delivery or blocking.
If you have not communicated with your service provider yet, get a handle on all the numbers you use to call your customers.
What is the best outreach strategy?
Take an active approach and reach out to your voice provider to find out what steps you can take to ensure your numbers do not get blacklisted. See what you need to do to make sure you are able to apply digital certificates to every call.
What do you need to do to ensure your service provider is ready to participate in STIR/SHAKEN?
Inquire and ensure that your service provider has or will implement STIR/SHAKEN by the June 30th, 2021 deadline or have a Robocall Mitigation Plan in place.
There are a few public databases that you can find and search to confirm if your service provider is a STIR/SHAKEN participant. The FCC has created a public Robocall Mitigation Database. That information will be published on a public website and “available for download … to ensure transparency and accountability for implementing robocall mitigation programs,” as stated in the Federal Register notification.