man talking on cell phone - STIR/SHAKEN

If you own a cell phone or a landline, you’ve dealt with your fair share of SPAM and robocalls. It seems that every year there are more and more automated voices asking you about your car’s extended warranty, your bogus student loans, or even the bitcoin investment you never made.  

Worse yet is a technique called spoofing. This is where a scammer or spammer will copy a legitimate phone number to use for their illicit phone calls, possibly doing irreparable damage to the reputation of the rightful phone number owner. In 2021 alone, robocalls made up 60% of all phone calls in the United States! No wonder 86% of consumers only answer calls if they can identify the caller. 

Thankfully, the federal government has taken steps to combat these annoying, and frankly illegal calls. Just before the end of 2019, the government and the FCC established rules for robocall mitigation. This was based on a new type of technology known as STIR/SHAKEN protocol. 

STIR/SHAKEN: A Brief History 

In December 2019, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act was passed. The TRACED Act required all voice providers to add an additional layer of caller ID authentication onto their IP networks by a specific date. This technology, known as STIR/SHAKEN protocol, is designed to mitigate the number of robocalls consumers receive on all major and minor voice networks.  

What is STIR/SHAKEN Protocol? 

STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited) is a digital protocol that verifies if a call is secure before completing it. SHAKEN (Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs) is the U.S.-Canadian system that defines how a voice provider should implement the STIR protocol on their network. 

Think of STIR as a virtual “seal of approval”. It allows the originating voice provider (the one making the call) to digitally stamp a call, attesting that the information about the calling party is correct – name, number, etc. It also allows the terminating voice provider (the one receiving the call) to verify if that information is correct and add its own “seal of approval” before completing the call. 

There are three levels of approval, or “attestation,” an originating provider can give to a call: 

Full Attestation (A): The customer making the call is who they say they are, and they’re authorized to use this telephone number. 

Partial Attestation (B): The customer making the call is who they say they are, but the provider can’t tell if the caller is authorized to use this telephone number. 

Gateway Attestation (C): The service provider knows where the call is coming from but doesn’t know the call’s source. This Gateway attestation is common for international calls. 

On top of giving their seal of approval to calls, the originating provider also sends important call data to the terminating provider. This will help both providers know when and where the call entered their network.  

For a more in-depth look at STIR/SHAKEN, click here. 

Why is it Important? 

Now, many of you may be asking: “what has all this technological talk got to do with me?” It’s simple. If your voice provider isn’t STIR/SHAKEN certified, you and your company risk not being able to make or receive phone calls at all. 

Here’s why. The FCC passed the TRACED act, which set requirements for voice providers. Now, all voice providers must be registered in the Robocall Mitigation Database (RMD). This act also required providers to register in the database by June 30, 2022. They could register with proof that they had deployed a STIR/SHAKEN solution, or with a detailed robocall mitigation plan. 

Any provider that is not in the RMD after the deadline, runs the risk of having their traffic blocked – completely and automatically. The FCC requires all voice providers to block any “unsigned” traffic coming into their networks. No seal of approval? No connectivity.  

How to Get STIR/SHAKEN Confirmation 

First, don’t panic! The FCC required all providers to be certified by June 30, 2022, so the vast majority of providers are completely STIR/SHAKEN certified. But the only way you can know for sure is to see for yourself. 

Second, check and see if your current provider is in the Robocall Mitigation Database. The RMD is available online for any consumer to review. Take advantage of that! Simply type in your provider’s name, hit enter, and see where they are in their STIR/SHAKEN process. Ideally, you should see the phrase “Complete STIR/SHAKEN Implementation” next to your provider’s name.  

If you see “Partial STIR/SHAKEN Implementation” or “No STIR/SHAKEN Implementation,” then we’d suggest moving to step three. 

Third, contact your current communications provider and ask. If your provider is in the “Partial STIR/SHAKEN” or “No STIR/SHAKEN” camp, don’t be afraid to reach out to your account representative to talk about it. When are they planning to complete implementation? What are some steps they’re taking to prevent robocalling if they’re not planning to implement STIR/SHAKEN? If they can’t answer these questions or refuse to answer them, it’s time to switch to a different communications provider. 

Magic Apple: SHAKEN & STIRred 

We’re proud to report that Magic Apple is completely STIR/SHAKEN certified! All calls made on our network are stamped with our complete seal of approval (Attestation A in case you were wondering). No need to worry about your calls being blocked, your numbers being spoofed, or your phone lines being clogged with pointless SPAM calls. Interested in learning more about our STIR/SHAKEN solution? Reach out to one of our talented technicians today

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