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“American consumers are sick and tired of unwanted robocalls, this consumer among them. Caller ID authentication will be a significant step towards ending the scourge of spoofed robocalls. It’s time for carriers to implement robust caller ID authentication.” – FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (2020)

How Will Caller ID Authentication Help Consumers?

“Caller ID authentication is a new system aimed at combating illegal caller ID spoofing,” according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). “Such a system is critical to protecting Americans from scam spoofed robocalls and would erode the ability of callers to illegally spoof a caller ID, which scammers use to trick Americans into answering their phones when they shouldn’t.”

“Additionally, consumers and law enforcement alike could more readily identify the source of illegal robocalls and reduce their frequency and impact. Industry stakeholders are working to implement caller ID authentication, which is sometimes called STIR/SHAKEN. Once implemented, it should greatly help the accuracy of caller ID information and should allow voice service providers to provide helpful information to their consumers about which calls to answer.”

What Does STIR/SHAKEN Mean?

STIR/SHAKEN is a framework of interconnected standards. STIR/SHAKEN are acronyms for the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) standards.

This means that calls traveling through interconnected phone networks would have their caller ID “signed” as legitimate by originating carriers and validated by other carriers before reaching consumers. STIR/SHAKEN digitally validates the handoff of phone calls passing through the complex web of networks, allowing the phone company of the consumer receiving the call to verify that a call is in fact from the number displayed on Caller ID.

What are Tokens?

Tokens are the mechanism that originating providers use to digitally sign a call as being legitimate. The digital token contains all sorts of information about the call. It’s mostly information contained in traditional call stream data but it also contains a piece of information called “Attestation Level” which describes the legitimacy of that call.

There are three attestation levels, the STIR/SHAKEN standard defines them as:

Full Attestation (A)

The signing provider (thinQ) shall satisfy all of the following conditions:
– Is responsible for the origination of the call onto the IP-based service provider voice network.
– Has a direct authenticated relationship with the customer and can identify the customer.
– Has established a verified association with the telephone number used for the call.

Partial Attestation (B)

The signing provider (thinQ) shall satisfy all of the following conditions:
– Is responsible for the origination of the call onto its IP-based service provider voice network.
– Has a direct authenticated relationship with the customer and can identify the customer.
– Has NOT established a verified association with the telephone number being used for the call.

Gateway Attestation (C)

The signing provider (thinQ) shall satisfy all of the following conditions:
– Is the entry point of the call into its VoIP network.
– Has no relationship with the initiator of the call (e.g., international gateways).

How is thinQ Implementing STIR/SHAKEN?

thinQ has gone through the regulatory steps enabling it to source telephone numbers and implement the STIR/SHAKEN protocol. Initially, thinQ will pass along all tokens and attestation levels it receives in the call stream data:

  • We will assign Full Attestation (A) to all calls originating from thinQ assigned telephone numbers.
  • We will assign Partial Attestation (B) for customer calls originating from non-thinQ telephone numbers.

Of course, thinQ will utilize carrier networks that support our tokens and attestation policies. Later on, we may introduce flexibility for customers to specify how calls with different attestation levels are handled. For example, a customer may choose to have calls with Gateway Attestation (C) blocked.

When will this happen?

The FCC has mandated that carriers implement STIR/SHAKEN by June of 2021. We’re working against that deadline and closely monitoring the FCC’s guidance. For more information, contact your account manager or email us at support@thinq.com.