Insights

Call Authentication, Combatting Robocalling and Protecting Numbering Assets Take Center Stage at the 2021 Toll-Free Traffic Pumping & Fraud Workshop

With over fifteen months having passed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think we can all agree that we are deep into an accelerated digital transformation. While this has brought on a bounty of exciting, new technologies and platforms, it has also with it brought on new opportunities for bad actors to defraud innocent consumers.

At the 2021 Toll-Free Traffic Pumping & Fraud Workshop, hosted by Somos, leading industry experts from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Twilio and Intrado converged to discuss Toll-Free fraud mitigation and prevention as well as restoring trust in numbering.

The Workshop opened with a review of the Somos ReportFraud program, now starting its fourth year. Based on reports about impersonation frauds using Toll-Free Numbers by 74 businesses and government entities, Somos and its Responsible Organization (Resp Org) partners, 65 of which had been managing one or more of these numbers, we’ve shut down more than 15,000 TFNs used by fraudsters.

Next, we had our first Fireside Chat of the day with Matthew Collins, Assistant Chief of the Competition Policy Division within the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. Moderated by Catherine Palcic, Manager, Strategic Industry Relations & Public Policy at Somos, Matt discussed in detail some topics, issues and expectations related to the upcoming STIR/SHAKEN deadline. From caller identification technologies currently available to the implementation of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement & Deterrence Act (TRACED Act) to the FCC’s current efforts and initiatives, Matt helped expand upon the FCC’s multi-pronged approach toward stopping unwanted robocalls. He also talked about upcoming changes in Toll-Free charges that should take some of the incentives out of Toll-Free traffic pumping.

Keeping on the theme of unwanted calls, the workshop next welcomed James Evans, the Do Not Call Program Coordinator for the FTC for a second, dedicated Fireside Chat. Moderated by Joel Bernstein, VP of Regulatory and Public Policy at Somos, James opened by talking a bit about the FTC’s approach to robocalling as well as how what they do differs from what the FCC does in regard to jurisdiction and enforcement. Specifically, he spoke about recent examples of larger scale robocalling initiatives and wins, including the FTC’s late 2020 action against Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider Alcazar Networks Inc. for facilitating illegal telemarketing robocalls.


Resources Shared by James Evans, FTC

FTC Cases:
https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/1923259/alcazar-networks-inc
https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/192-3033/educare-centre-services-inc

Guide for businesses on compliance with the TSR:
https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/complying-telemarketing-sales-rule

Need to file a complaint to the FTC?
https://www.donotcall.gov/report.html
https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/


After a short break, the event returned with a panel discussion, which included conversation around why enterprises should protect their numbering assets as well as how they can go about doing this. Specifically, they highlighted some of the tools and best practices businesses and subscribers can use to maximize value and minimize risk. Moderated by Dave Stewart, SVP & Chief Business Development Officer at Somos, the panel included leading industry experts including:

  • Jaime Zetterstrom, VP of Network Operations at Intrado
  • Melissa Blassingame, Director for Strategic Business Development at Twilio 
  • Sri Ramachandran, SVP & Chief Technology Officer at Somos

One of the chief themes woven throughout the conversation included how we can rebuild trust in telephony – specifically through industry-wide coordination and efforts – to capitalize on new demands, all while minimizing risk. Through sharing different use cases, identifying the latest trends in Toll-Free fraud, best practices and the types of protective services available to users and more, the panel was able to provide an enterprise-centric view of the current and future transformational journey of telephony services.

After closing remarks from Joel, the workshop wrapped up with a reminder of something that we can all agree upon – traffic pumping and fraud are issues that need to be monitored and proactively prevented. Somos was pleased to have the opportunity to partner with industry experts and drive the conversation around finding a solution. 

Interested in learning how you can help prevent your non-originating number from being spoofed? Check out RealNumber DNO today!

For Responsible Organizations (Resp Orgs) looking to learn more, they can access a recording of the webinar and a copy of the presentation deck by logging into their account on the Somos Portal Website.

We look forward to continuing to empower the Toll-Free industry by providing thought leadership and a platform for continued discussions around keeping Toll-Free a safe, trustworthy, and dependable way for businesses and organizations to connect to their customers.

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