New technology stops spoofing so you don't miss important calls during coronavirus pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- You may be missing important financial or medical calls during the COVID-19 pandemic by not answering your phone thinking they are robocalls.

The unfamiliar numbers could actually be important calls from your bank, your loan application or your doctor. New technology may eventually help you feel more comfortable about answering your phone again.

"Robocalls are the top category of consumer complaints the FCC gets every single year. One particularly bad problem that many consumers have is the problem with spoofed robocall," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Spoofed calls refer to the phone number caller ID information being faked. The chairman of the FCC and security experts said during the coronavirus pandemic, they should think about answering their phones again.

"We have now mandated that phone companies implement a new technology called 'STIR/SHAKEN.' Which essentially makes sure the caller ID information that is conveyed within the phone call matches the caller's actual number," said Pai.

That STIR/SHAKEN technology, a name created as a nod to James Bond, is supposed to weed out the spoofing so you should know that a call which says it's coming from your bank or doctor, really is.

"It's almost like if you have a smartphone where you use your fingerprint to unlock it, sort of a similar thing," explained Pai.

"We are going to do everything we can to make sure these essential phone calls have a chance to get answered. These are critical calls we need consumers to answer," said Jeff Stalnaker, president of First Orion, a technology company that's battling spoofed calls. "We are using a myriad of different technologies to give you the greatest insurance that call is not being spoofed. That protects you while also giving you the transparency that you need in order to know to answer the phone call."

The FCC said all phone companies must implement STIR/SHAKEN by June of 2021. However on their websites, some of the major cell phone providers say they are already using it. You should reach out to your carrier to find out how well it works to weed out spoofed calls.
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