On 30 June 2021, a deadline for all voice providers in the USA to implement a new type of
technology to combat robocalls was to expire. Anyone not compliant with the technology after that point is liable to be on
the receiving end of punishments, including fines and further sanctions.
That was supposedly an important date when it comes to the fight against the spam calls we all
receive on a daily basis. On 30 June 2021, all phone companies in the US were required to start using
Stir/Shaken technology. While that may sound like something out of a James Bond movie, there are, no
cocktails involved. Instead, Stir/Shaken is a project where phone companies like T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast had
to verify all incoming and outgoing calls routed through their networks. By verifying each call, the number of fake or
spoofed calls was supposed to be reduced, in turn, causing our phones to ring less often. Huzzah!
There's nothing we need to do on our end to take advantage of the new feature. The technology
means our service provider is supposed to handle it before a call ever reaches our phone. That said, the new tech isn't
going to completely stop robocalls from reaching your phone -- including scams promising a free trip to Jamaica or falsely
scaring you into believing your Social Security number is suspended.
BUT, more than a month after the deadline, I was still receiving as many, or more,
robocalls as ever!
Let’s face it, If you haven’t been getting several robocalls every day, you probably don't have a
cellphone or no longer use a landline. Robocalls are the #1 complaint filed with the Federal Communications
The new Stir/Shaken technology that enables telecom carriers to verify a call is coming
from the number that's displayed on the screen is supposed to significantly reduce the number of robocalls reaching our
phones. So far, it hasn’t done a thing for me.
"I think it's going to make a big difference," said the acting chairwoman of the FCC. But,
as of August 2021, it hadn’t made a positive difference for me.
While the FCC “strongly” asks anyone receiving robocalls from a spoofed number to file a
complaint with the commission, there is simply no easy way for victims of robocalls to send in a complaint!
Some three years ago, I addressed the mushrooming problem of robocalls when I wrote the following:
“I’ve always tried to be polite to others. This includes taking telephone calls. But the time has arrived when being polite
is counterproductive. My land-line telephone calls are now preponderately robocalls – probably around 90% of all my incoming
calls. I've now taken to being an embittered and nasty old man when responding to robocalls!”
(Ref. 3) I had first addressed the robocall problem back in 2016.
Over the intervening five years since my first article on the subject, the problem has only grown worse.
Our politicians have pontificated on the problem, but, like the “plague”, the problem has only intensified with
Around 26 billion phone calls in the year 2018 were robocalls. Robocalls will not
go away until they are stamped out at the source. That requires an industry-wide effort and the cooperation of the government.
We are not there yet. You may be surprised to know that robocalls are not nearly as common or as frequent as they are in
Europe. Small comfort!
Will Stir/Shaken eventually put an end to robocall aggravation? Not likely! “Kush Parikh,
president at Hiya, which offers technology for blocking fraudulent robocalls, said it’s still not enough.
" ‘Stir/Shaken is an important step in protecting people from illegal phone calls but
unfortunately it will not solve the widespread problem,’ Parikh told Fox News.
" ‘Many people who do not understand Stir/Shaken, including politicians and companies,
will quickly realize that this protocol is not a silver bullet,’ Parikh said.
" ‘So while Stir/Shaken is a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to combat illegal
calls, there is still a long road ahead,’ Parikh said.
" ‘It’s a constant cat-and-mouse game that requires real-time detection and continuously learning
models that can recognize and stop these scams,’ according to Parikh.” (Ref. 5)
Long ago, I signed up with the government’s Do Not Call (DNC) Registry, but doing so has
done absolutely nothing to stop the flood of telemarketing robocalls that come to my phone each and every day. The
‘Do Not Call Registry’ established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2003 has not worked. The FTC has been
totally ineffective, either because of incompetency or because they haven’t had the legal weapons they need to get the job
All four major wireless carriers offer some sort of call-blocking feature. All have a free option
and a premium tier. But all robocall blocking services should be free. This shouldn't be a way for carriers to make some
money off of us. And there is still the ubiquitous landline which many of us still use. We need to be free of the unwanted
calls there too.
So, while the politicians, federal administrators, and telecom companies claim to be winning the
war against robocalls, my personal experience is that robocallers are thumbing their noses at all of them - and at us – the
unhappy recipients of those billions of robocalls each year. I’ll hold my applause until my phone stops ringing with those
unwanted calls. It’s been 5 years since I started complaining about robocalls. I’ve seen zero progress in addressing the
problem. The number of robocalls I’ve received each day has gone up, not down, during those five years.
There is something seriously wrong here. We can send man to the moon; we can provide technological
wonders like virtual reality; we can have
driverless automobiles and drones but we appear powerless to get rid of unwanted telemarketers and robocalls. I don’t accept
the excuse that the technology isn’t up to finding and stopping the perpetrators of these abuses of our privacy. Don’t tell
me that agencies like NSA, the FBI, the CIA, and a multitude of other alphabet-soup agencies, either singly, or combined
can’t come up with a way to find and prosecute the robocallers.
Does anyone actually believe that the technology doesn’t
exist to put an end to the deluge
of these unwanted phone calls? Maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe the appropriate question to ask is:
“Does a real will exist in government and industry to end robocalls?”
- Robocalls still haven't gone away, so here's every method we know for stopping them, Jason Cipriani,
www.cnet.com, 24 July 2021.
- What the Tech? The end of robocalls, Jamey Tucker, www.wfmz.com, 8 July 2021.
- No More Mister Polite for Me!, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu; Article 332,
16 August 2018.
- Inundated With Commercials, Telemarketing Calls and Spam, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu;
8 December 2016.
- Hate robocalls? Battle against scam calls intensifies, Brooke Crothers, FOX NEWS,
3 July 2021.