iconectiv Enables Consumers to Trust Calls, Text Messages and RCS Interactions

Americans were inundated with more than 58 billion robocalls in 2019—22 percent more than in 2018, USA Today reports. That’s conditioned people to let calls from unfamiliar or unidentified numbers drop into voicemail 76 percent of the time–assuming that their voicemail is even set up and isn’t already full.

Voice isn’t the only channel negatively impacted by fraud. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission received 93,331 complaints about unwanted text messages, including smishing (text message phishing) attempts. That was up 30 percent from 2017 and grew even more in 2019. Each year, nearly 4.5 billion unwanted spam texts flood mobile phone numbers in the United States.

SMS spoofing and illegal robocalls hurt everyone. Each year, consumers don’t answer or respond to hundreds of millions of legitimate calls and texts—such as those from doctor’s offices and schools—simply because they’re wary that it’s from an unfamiliar number. Legitimate businesses take a productivity hit when employees waste time playing phone tag with customers. Service providers pay the price, too. For example, according to the FCC, service providers spend over $10 fielding each customer complaint about illegal robocalls.

Banking scams and identity theft are two common forms of text message fraud. For example, scammers may send an SMS with a link asking to activate a credit card or track a package. That link may take users to a page asking them to input various kinds of personal information or be used to trick the user into downloading malicious apps that can be used to intercept messages or covertly collect personal data. 

Now fraudsters are also eyeing the next generation of messaging—Rich Communications Services (RCS)—as the next entry point to defraud consumers. Nearly 100 service providers worldwide have launched RCS, according to the GSMA, and more than 360 million people use it. As those numbers grow, so do opportunities for fraudsters.  

Building Consumer Trust by Enabling Informed Decisions

When service providers receive a call, text message or RCS interaction from a business, they need a way to verify its identity to help protect their customers. For example, if they determine that the caller ID information has been tampered with to mispresent the business’ identity, they can block the call. This safeguard builds customer confidence in caller ID information and, in turn, makes them more likely to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers rather than letting them go into voicemail.

The new Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (SHAKEN) framework helps service providers build that trust with phone calls. Developed by the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) and the SIP Forum, SHAKEN describes the tools and processes for signing and verifying calling party information. This enables consumers to know—before answering—that the caller ID information that they receive is verified.

But there’s a big caveat: Legitimate calls from networks overseas are at risk of being caught in SHAKEN’s net. Take the example of a multinational enterprise whose U.K. and German employees call their colleagues, customers and business partners in the U.S. Presently, SHAKEN won’t accurately present some of those caller IDs as verified because they do not participate in the STIR/SHAKEN ecosystem, so they wind up unanswered or potentially even blocked.

This possibility highlights another challenge that service providers face: The complexity of authenticating millions of businesses, and then verifying that incoming calls, messages, RCS data and interactions from chatbots are really from them and not an imposter.

iconectiv developed the TruReach platform to give service providers a convenient, streamlined way to identify legitimate voice, SMS and RCS communications, attuned to how those enter their network in a variety of ways. This verification is particularly valuable for businesses that have multiple service providers because they have operations around the U.S. When the originating service provider sees a number that it has not assigned, it can use TruReach to authenticate calls from those businesses that utilize multiple service providers.

Build Trust in RCS from Day One

TruReach also supports the GSMA’s Verified Sender initiative, whose framework verifies the identity of businesses when they send RCS messages to consumers. This support is critical because RCS is rapidly emerging as a powerful new way for businesses to interact with customers where application-to-person (A2P) text messages can be embedded with video carousels for browsing and buying products.

These enhanced features significantly increase customer engagement. For example, in a 2019 Vodafone trial, 80 percent of customers read an RCS message, and 25 percent responded to the offer. But RCS’ bright future is clouded by illegal robocalling, SMS spam and other forms of fraud, which have undermined both consumer trust and business revenue in the voice and text channels. For example, in a Mobile Ecosystem Forum survey, mobile operators estimated the revenue impact of A2P SMS to be 9.4 percent.

As a new technology, RCS has a unique opportunity to leverage business verification and authentication, which are key for getting consumers to trust RCS content. This verification also makes the terminating network confident enough to augment the calling party information with the business’ brand name or logo. This additional information helps consumers make more informed decisions about whether to answer the call. As a result, calls from those legitimate businesses not already in the consumer’s address book now are more likely to be answered. This directly maximizes the reach, effectiveness and ROI of those businesses’ omnichannel marketing initiatives and outbound customer service programs. This enhanced information makes consumers feel confident that they can safely interact with that RCS chatbot.

A One-Stop Shop to Support a Common Goal

TruReach provides legitimate businesses with a streamlined, straightforward way to register, get validated and have their information distributed to service providers. Instead of having to work directly with dozens of service providers, businesses simply register once with TruReach to get access to multiple service providers for voice calls, SMS and RCS, which saves money by eliminating duplicate processes. Most important of all, TruReach ensures that consumers can trust the information displayed on their caller ID, so they no longer fall victim to fraud or waste time responding to unsolicited calls and messages.  

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.