What you need to know

  • Twelve of the largest phone companies and all 50 state attorneys general came together in an agreement to help prevent robocalls.
  • The carriers will implement the SHAKEN/STIR protocol on its networks along with helping law enforcement track down robocallers.
  • The agreement is completely voluntary and there is no deadline for compliance.

Few things in this world can bring together lawmakers and carriers, but robocalls is one of those polarizing issues which everyone can get on board with. That's why, on August 22, twelve of the largest telephone companies in the U.S. and attorneys general from all 50 states came together to hammer out an agreement to help prevent and block robocalls. The full list of carriers involved includes:

  • AT&T
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • U.S. Cellular
  • Verizon
  • Bandwidth Inc.
  • CenturyLink
  • Charter
  • Comcast
  • Consolidated Communications
  • Frontier Communications
  • Windstream

In accordance with the new deal, the carriers have agreed to implement the SHAKEN/STIR protocol to verify the origin of the calls you receive. By using the SHAKEN/STIR technology, the carriers will be able to tell if the number calling you is being spoofed, or is actually originating from where it claims to be coming from. It will also aid in the ability to trace illegal calls to the source, making it easier to crack down on robocallers.

Along with implementing the SHAKEN/STIR technology on its networks, the companies have also agreed to help state law enforcement in confirming the identities of companies making the robocalls. Free call blocking will also be made available to customers to help prevent unwanted calls.

Unfortunately, right now, the agreement is entirely voluntary and there is no deadline for compliance. Smaller companies have also yet to sign the agreement. However, we've already seen carriers begin to implement this on their networks this year.

T-Mobile and AT&T announced a partnership for cross-network verification with SHAKEN/STIR earlier this month, while AT&T and Comcast struck a similar deal back in March of 2019.

Josh Stein, the North Carolina State Attorney General said in the press conference, "Thanks to these prevention principles, our phones will ring less often." He then added:

But unfortunately there will always be bad actors no matter how well we try to prevent these calls. Some will get through and that's why enforcement is such a critical part of what we're doing today.

According to an FCC report issued in February, Americans received nearly 50 million robocalls in 2018. Out of that staggering amount of robocalls, almost half of them were from scammers. In the report, it also revealed that complaints about robocalls have jumped from 172,000 in 2015 to 232,000 in 2018. Hopefully, this new agreement will help put a dent in the number of robocalls we continue to receive on a daily basis.

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