Nearly a billion malicious robocalls averted over the past year
A message from Joe Russo, senior vice president of network operations for Verizon:
Whether you’re one of our wireline or wireless customers, Verizon has been on your side taking a stand against robo and spam callers. Now we’re about to take it one step further by offering our third party rated number one spam and robocalling protection features to our customers for free.
Here’s what we’ve done so far for our customers:
More than a year ago, Verizon added call and spam screening at no additional charge to wireless customers subscribing to our Call Filter service (formerly Caller Name ID). This service identifies spam callers and unknown numbers by name and shows an innovative risk meter that displays the level of spam risk associated with a call. If a call meets Verizon’s spam criteria, the incoming call screen will display a spam label.
Verizon also offers free alerts about potential spam calls to customers on a number of Android phones. And in March, we will begin rolling out our free spam alerting and call blocking tools to all of our customers whose smartphones support these features.
On the wireline side, all Verizon customers with Caller ID service, whether they are served over fiber or copper, receive Verizon’s Spam Alerts service for free. The caller ID displays show “SPAM?” before a caller’s name if the incoming number matches Verizon’s spam criteria. Since its launch last year, this feature has alerted Verizon customers to nearly 1 billion potentially malicious robocalls.
We are continuously updating our algorithm and to date have identified nearly 300 million numbers associated with spam and robocalling.
In March, we will be rolling out our free spam alerting and call blocking tools to all of our wireless customers whose smartphones support these features, including iPhone and Android devices. There will be more information on how to sign up for the free service as we get closer to launch.
While call blocking features are one answer to this problem, they aren’t the sole solution. That’s why Verizon is an industry leader on multiple initiatives to address the spoofing problem and to root out illegal robocallers at the source.
Typically robocallers hide their identities by using fake or “spoofed” numbers. Verizon cannot always identify the illegal robocaller because the spoofed robocalls typically start with Internet-based providers (often based outside the United States), and then pass through several other companies’ networks before reaching us. We have no way to tell who made the calls unless each of those “upstream” carriers agrees to provide information about where the calls are coming from – and often those attempts to trace back suspicious traffic dead-ends when one of those upstream companies in the call path refuses to cooperate.
We’ve taken numerous steps to take on these problems:
We’ve implemented programs to prevent our services from being used by illegal robocallers. And we’re encouraging other voice service providers to implement similar “know your customer” programs.
We have committed to and support the new “STIR/SHAKEN” call authentication technology which will visually alert consumers to spoofed calls and we support legislation requiring service providers to deploy the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication technology.
Verizon is also a founding member of the US Telecom Industry Traceback Group, an industry-led organization that traces back suspicious robocall traffic, stops many illegal robocalls and helps enforcement agencies catch the bad guys. Since being a founding member two years ago, more than 20 other organizations have joined the initiative. Without these activities, the flood of illegal robocalls would be even greater.
Lastly, we support stronger federal laws to outlaw spoofing and to shut down illegal robocallers. Few robocallers get charged with illegal spoofing because the Truth in Caller ID Act defines “spoofing” narrowly. The government currently must prove the caller intended to defraud, cause harm, or illegally obtain something of value. Verizon supports a simple rule that would make it illegal for any caller to use any phone number that it is not authorized to use. Verizon also supports legislation, including the TRACED Act, to strengthen enforcement against illegal robocallers and to require other service providers to join us in implementing the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication technology.