"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

How Will Caller ID Authentication Help Consumers?

Caller ID authentication is a new system aimed at combating illegal caller ID spoofing. 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 Is the FCC Doing?

The FCC is leading the push for industry adoption of these standards to help consumers as quickly as possible. The Commission prompted real progress in call authentication by starting a formal inquiry in July 2017, seeking public input on the best way to establish a reliable system to verify the caller ID information that appears on the recipient's phone. This resulted in a North American Numbering Council-recommended framework for implementing an industry-developed standard to help prevent illegal attempts to trick consumers through caller ID spoofing. STIR/SHAKEN should establish a reliable authentication system that will help strengthen call-blocking services and unmask spoofed calls.

In November 2018, Chairman Pai demanded that the phone industry adopt a robust call authentication system to combat illegal caller ID spoofing and implement that system within a year. Chairman Pai sent letters to the major voice providers asking them to outline their plans to protect their customers and implement the STIR/SHAKEN standards—and do so without delay. In February 2019, Chairman Pai welcomed many carriers' commitments to meeting his timeline for implementation, called on others to "catch up," and made clear that the FCC would consider regulatory intervention if necessary. In June 2019, the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, that proposed and sought comment on mandating implementation of STIR/SHAKEN if the end-of-2019 deadline wasn't met.

Chairman Pai also scheduled a STIR/SHAKEN Robocall Summit for July 11 to examine the industry's progress toward meeting his deadline and to identify any challenges to the deployment of the STIR/SHAKEN framework and discuss how best to overcome them. In March 2020, the Commission adopted new rules requiring all originating and terminating voice service providers to implement caller ID authentication using STIR/SHAKEN technological standards in the Internet Protocol (IP) portions of their networks by June 30, 2021. The Commission also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to take public comment on additional caller ID authentication rules.

Other Materials

FCC Consumer Resources