FCC Acts to Stop International Robocall Scams

WASHINGTON —The Federal Communications Commission today adopted new rules to stop illegal robocalls that originate overseas from entering American phone networks.  The new rules on gateway providers – the on-ramps for international call traffic – institute stringent compliance requirements to ensure that these providers comply with STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication protocols and require that they take additional measures to validate the identity of the providers whose traffic they are routing.

International robocall scams are widely understood to be a huge part of the robocall and spoofing problem facing American consumers and businesses.  In 2021, the Industry Traceback Group reported that 65% of the voice service providers identified as transmitting illegal robocalls were either foreign-based or gateway providers.  Facing this reality, the FCC and Congress have made the fight against foreign-originated scam calls a priority.

Gateway providers serve as a critical choke-point for reducing the number of illegal robocalls received by American consumers.  The new rules require gateway providers to participate in robocall mitigation, including blocking efforts, take responsibility for illegal robocall campaigns on their networks, cooperate with FCC enforcement efforts, and quickly respond to efforts to trace illegal robocalls to their source.  With this Report and Order, non-compliance by a gateway provider may result in that provider being removed from the Robocall Mitigation Database and subject to mandatory blocking by other network participants, essentially ending its ability to operate.

The FCC will also seek further public comment on expanding robocall mitigation requirements to all U.S.-based intermediate providers, not just gateway providers.  The FCC will review this record in order to determine how, if, and when anti-robocall and spoofing rules will be applied to intermediate providers, some of the few remaining participants in the voice service ecosystem to not yet fall under requirements to file a certification and mitigation plan in the Robocall Mitigation Database.

The new rules will complement other FCC efforts to close down avenues for robocallers.  The FCC has already moved up to June 30, 2022 the sunset of the exception afforded to certain small carriers for implementing STIR/SHAKEN.  In addition, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has demanded that providers cease and desist from carrying illegal robocall traffic.  For more information about FCC efforts to combat illegal spoofing, robocalls, and robotexts, visit: www.fcc.gov/spoofed-robocalls.  Also, consumer resources are available at: www.fcc.gov/robocalls.

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