Robocall Research

Mind Commerce is pleased to announce coverage of the market for Robocall Detection and Unwanted Call Management. Accordingly, we have engaged in solution testing and other activities focused on this segment within Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Robocall Detection and Unwanted Call Management solutions rely upon various ICT technologies including data analytics and artificial intelligence. Some solutions benefit from a view into network connectivity and call routing. In all cases, solutions benefit from caller ID information, which may be accessible via a Application Programming Interface (API) and/or reside within the robocall detection solution itself.

It is important to understand that Bad Actors (those entities that are not using robocall technologies in an unethical and/or illegal manner) are constantly changing their tools, techniques, and schemes. This means that the “good guys” (carriers, vendors, FCC, etc.) must remain continually vigilant.

Problematic Robocalls

It is NOT enough to determine that a given call is a robocall as many instances are from ethical, lawful participants such as churches, schools, etc. Solutions must identify if a given number is a cause for concern.

“Problematic” =  a cause for concern

“Problematic” (numbers/calls) are those that are a cause for concern. They may include spam, abusive telemarketer or debt collector, scam or fraud.

While it is often enough to simply determine that a call is “Problematic” to alert a called party (they should proceed with caution or simply do not answer), it is also important to consider the severity of a given robocall.

Robocall Severity Levels

It is important to note that semantics are at play in terms of labeling severity. While there may be some legal definition of things like spam, scam, or fraud, there is no attempt here to make a declarative statement. Therefore, the following is a guideline.

Robocall Spam vs. Scam

Just about everyone knows spam when they experience it. Spam is simply anything that is unsolicited and likely unwanted. This can include physical items (such as junk mail delivered by post) or electronic items (such as email or phone calls).

It is harder to draw the line between spam and a scam. One example offered here that we have experienced is the robocall that starts purely as a bot that says “….press one to be connected to our XYZ company so you can roll-over your credit card balance”. If you press one, you are connected to a call center and a live person on the other end of the call that says something like “You have been connected because you want to lower your rate”.

This situation can lead to outright fraud!

Minimally this scenario can be viewed as a scam because they act like they know your situation, but they really don’t. Perhaps they just trick you into moving your credit card balance to a different credit card provider, but all too often something worse happens.

Robocall Scam vs. Fraud

In the above example, outright fraud may occur if one is not careful.

Some of the questions may be along the lines of “Let me first verify the authenticity of your card.  Please tell me your expiration date.  Please tell me your card number.  Please tell me the code on the back of the card.”

Some people will actually respond in the affirmative, providing their credit card details unknowingly to someone who only wants to steal this information. In other words, it is more than just an unethical scam – it is credit card fraud.

Number Spoofing: Determining Authenticity

Robocallers often use a technique referred to as phone number “spoofing” as a means of tricking the called party into answering a call. Leading robocall detection and unwanted call management solutions take this into account.

Robocall detection solutions may take advantage of the Local Exchange Routing Guide (LERG), which is an authoritative database of telephone numbers. The LERG may be used to validate phone numbers (e.g. determine if a number is actually listed in the database) and verify allocation (e.g. number has actually be allocated to a given communications provider). The LERG is not used to determine number assignment (e.g. whether a carrier has actually assigned a number, such as provisioning in a cellular carrier’s Home Location Register).

  • Number Spoofing: Altering a number so it appears to be a calling party number that is different than the actual originating party ID.

Leading solutions verify the authenticity of a phone number by identifying if it exists in the LERG, and if so, if a number has actually be allocated to a carrier. A phone number may alternatively be spoofed to appear to be an actual, working number. One common spoofing trick used by bad actors is “neighborhood spoofing”.

  • Neighbor Calling: Number spoofing in which a phone number is altered so that it looks like a “neighbor” number (e.g. a number in the same NPA/NXX as the called party)

Unethical or illegal calling parties will use robocall technology to “neighborhood spoof” a phone number in the hopes that a called party will be more apt to answer the phone.

All to often, working phone numbers are “spoofed”, which can cause additional problems when called parties believe that the person who has lawful control of that number is trying to spam or scam them!!

Robocall Research

Mind Commerce initiates coverage of the robocall detection and unwanted call management space with its first edition of the Robocall Research report. This is the first ever ICT industry report to focus on the Robocall Detection and Unwanted Call Management segment. It will not be the last as Mind Commerce will cover quarterly.

First Robocall Report


Robocall Research, First Edition evaluates the current state of automated calling (robocalls), technologies for dealing with unwanted calls, leading companies and solutions.

This report also analyzes industry challenges and the future outlook for robocall technologies and solutions to defeat spammers, scammers, and fraudsters. This is research is recommended to carriers and solution providers within the United States as well as regulatory bodies such as the FCC.

In addition, countries experiencing robocall issues will learn from the state of robocall detection and unwanted call management solutions.

This first edition covers the first half of 2018. Subsequent editions will be issued on a quarterly basis. Learn more

This report assesses the current status of the robocall issue, evaluates technologies and vendor solutions, and provides a look into the future of robocall detection including evolution of telecom data analytics, network-based authentication (such as STIR/SHAKEN) and network-based intelligence (such as call origination identification).

Ongoing Robocall Market Coverage

The ICT industry is rapidly evolving and so are technologies employed for placing robocalls as well as those used for call spoofing.

As part of its commitment to Robocall Detection and Unwanted Call management, Mind Commerce will continue to monitor developments in this area such as the FCC’s notice soliciting input regarding status of industry initiatives to combat the robocalling challenge.

About Mind Commerce

Mind Commerce is an information services company that provides research and strategic analysis focused on the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry. Our ICT reports provide key trends, projections, and in-depth analysis for infrastructure, platforms, devices, applications, services, emerging business models and opportunities.

We focus on key emerging and disintermediating technology areas for service providers, technology providers, developers (communications, applications, content, and commerce), systems integrators and consultants, government organizations and NGOs, and the financial community.

About Mind Commerce

Analysis of telecom and ICT infrastructure, technologies, and applications.
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