Mobile network operators and federal regulators continue to fight to reduce the number of spam and scam robocalls that flood Americans’ phones each year. But the flip side of blocking unwanted calls is, how do you ensure that wanted phone calls from legitimate businesses get through in a way that might actually get people to answer their phones?
T-Mobile US and CTIA announced a new partnership today, in which they’ll focus on developing industry best practices for “branded Caller ID”, or BCI, for businesses and other organizations.
T-Mobile US demonstrated this technology last summer. It builds upon the verification of the STIR/SHAKEN framework and takes it a step further, to affirmatively identify businesses or organizations who are calling — like doctors’ offices and school districts — so that they can reach their customers, who right now are often afraid to answer unknown numbers and can therefore miss important and wanted calls. In this scenario, a STIR/SHAKEN verified call to T-Mobile US subscribers would draw on a CTIA-maintained database to not only transmit the number that is calling and that it is verified (i.e., not likely to be spam), but also bring in Rich Call Data (RCD) that would include company name and even logo, as well as a reason for why they are calling, such as billing issues or appointment reminders.
Businesses would have to register with the database and go through a verification process in order for it all to work, with the goal of not just alerting customers to verified and unverified calls, but proactively helping them feel more confident that they can identify and answer legitimate calls.
T-Mo called today’s announced “another key step in making this technology widely available.”
Wireless network operators have a vested interest in this, beyond trying to reduce the number of spam/scam calls being carried on their networks. According to T-Mobile US’ analysis of robocalls data from 2021, scammers pretend to be wireless providers in 9% of scam attempts, compared to 10% of robocall scams where they claim to be from Social Security. (To no one’s surprise, the largest number of robocall scams, more than 50%, involve fake vehicle warranties.)
That same analysis reports that 78% of consumers say they have missed an important call within the past month, because they didn’t recognize the number and therefore didn’t answer.
“For consumers and businesses that rely on phone calls for critical transactions such as financial services, insurance and healthcare, trusted calling is more important than ever,” the carrier said in a release.