THIS ‘N THAT
by Nicky De Lange
Suggested Headline: New Help For Blocking Robocalls In Sight
If you’ve ever considered throwing your phone out the window because robocalls are driving you crazy, stop! Hang on a minute. New technology could save your sanity.
And not a minute too soon.
The latest issue of Consumer Reports has an encouraging update on current efforts to stop the recent increase in this technological nightmare. Consider these frightening numbers: in 2018, 48 BILLION robocalls were placed to phones in the United States! That’s a 56.8 percent more robocalls than in 2017.
What’s the solution? It’s not registering your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. A lot of us did that in 2003, when it was established. It seemed to help for a while, but robocallers have learned to get around it.
We decided to drop our landline recently. I hated to do it, because we had that number since 1970, when we moved to Texas City. But we finally realized that almost all our calls were robocalls. Our cell phones seemed almost immune to that problem. Now we’re starting to get robocalls on them too.
What’s left to do? Well, consider apps and devices offered by phone companies that will detect or block incoming calls from telemarketers and scammers. Your phone carrier may provide these for free or for a fee. Just go to their website and look for a link for call security or call blocking.
There are also third-party apps to block robocalls. Just be sure to read the agreement carefully. Some are free, while others have a monthly service fee.
Perhaps the most encouraging news from Consumer Reports is that technology may have found a solution to the robocall problem. Eric Burger, CTO of the Federal Communications Commission, says consumers can expect to see major phone carriers roll out what may be a game-changing new system this year. It’s called STIR/SHAKEN.
STIR stands for “Secure Telephony Identity Revisited,” And “SHAKEN” stands for “Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs. And no, I did not make that up. See what bureaucracy can do?
Back to STIR/SHAKEN. The hope is that it will help reduce spoofed robocalls. How? By assigning a digital fingerprint to calls. That print will enable carriers to immediately recognize the real identity of the caller when the call goes through any part of the phone system on its way to your device. This enables the telecom providers to shut it down faster and easier as well as help law enforcement authorities to find and prosecute those responsible.
I hope at least some of the preceding paragraph made sense. Personally, I don’t care as long as it works. It’s all about results.
THIS ‘N THAT