The FCC Clarifies Phone Services Can’t Charge Customers for New Required Robocall-Fighting Tools

Earlier this year the FCC mandated phone companies to implement new caller ID verification technology by June 2021. Now the FCC is clarifying, saying carriers can’t charge customers with surprise fees for the caller ID features.

Known as STIR/SHAKEN, the new tech allows phone companies to verify that caller ID info actually matches the caller’s phone number. The idea is to curb the use of “spoofing,” where phone calls are disguised and made to look like they’re coming from a reliable or trusted source.

The FCC is requiring phone carriers to upgrade their networks if necessary to be able to implement the STIR/SHAKEN tech. For small companies who are unable to upgrade at in time, the FCC will provide certain “limited extensions” on the June 2021 deadline.

“Widespread implementation of STIR/SHAKEN will reduce the effectiveness of illegal spoofing, allow law enforcement to identify bad actors more easily, and help phone companies identify — and even block — calls with illegal spoofed caller ID information before those calls reach their subscribers. Most importantly, it will give consumers more peace of mind when they answer the phone,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

The FCC estimates that cracking down on robocalls could save more than $3 billion per year, adding that fraudulent robocalls also cost Americans around $10 billion annually.