A task force of more than 30 major technology and communication companies said they have made progress but have not found a solution to eliminate "robocalls" or automated, prerecorded phone calls, but a top U.S. regulator urged faster action.
Throw some people in prison and you'll get their attention. Yes, right here in the US, and yes, I'm talking about carrier executives. Why? We'll get to that:
Wheeler wrote major companies in July urging them to take new action to block robocalls, saying it was the top source of consumer complaints at the FCC. Scam artists often times based abroad try to appear to call from a bank or a government phone to trick consumers into disclosing confidential financial or account information.
How do they "appear" to call from a bank or government phone when they're not in the United States?
Ah, now see, there's the fraud and the US carriers are complicit in it.
Along with a call setup request (from one carrier to another) comes some information, which includes the "originating" number. The carriers do exactly nothing to validate that for other than 800 (free to calling party) numbers.
But they could very trivially prevent, for example, foreign calls from appearing with US numbers.
How? Refuse to route a call that comes from the UK unless the "originating" number is in the correct format including the country code prefix, for example.
That would stop instantly any of these calls that are originating outside of the United States.
As for those within the United States the FCC has jurisdiction, and can require that one of two things be the case:
1. The "originating" number be the actual originating number. This will be the appropriate setting for all individual lines; simply do not allow an overridden number from a consumer account -- period.
2. For those that are overridden require, under penalty of law, that the party overriding accept both civil and criminal legal responsibility for the authenticity of their override under existing criminal fraud statutes.
There are very good reasons to allow such an override on outbound calls. For example, at MCSNet we had outbound trunks that were all "rolled up" into high-capacity circuits (at the time DS1s); each of those trunks had a "real" phone number, but it was unpublished. We then had DID mapping for certain people who needed "private lines" and in addition we had our "main" number (312) - 803-MCS1 that would ring into the PBX on the next available trunk in the group. If you dialed out from our PBX those trunks (set up for bidirectional signalling) were configured to show 312-803-MCS1 as the "originating" number even though technically it was not. That's fine, because we owned the originating number, it was "real", and it really was our number.
It would not be difficult at all to require that all such entities that purchase service from a telco provider in the United States and wish to provide "originating number" overrides do so under a contractual requirement, carrying criminal criminal penalties for lying, that any such number they put through be truthful and belong to the actual originating party of the call.
If you were to do this and at the same time hold carriers criminally responsible for accepting "foreign" calls that have originating numbers that violate the country code format of the originating nation, a software check they could easily implement, this problem would disappear instantly.
Of course there are "telco providers" (such as the SIP folks) that would scream about such a requirement -- but let's face reality here. Enabling fraud as a business model makes you an accessory before the fact and recognizing that along with appropriate criminal sanction would go a long way to draining this swamp -- quickly and permanently.
Instead we "accept" a bunch of handwaving nonsense that comes from the FCC and various telcos.