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Stopping Illegal Robocalls Where They Start

Money: The Fuel Behind Illegal Robocalls

Virtually all stakeholders agree that the most effective place to stop illegal robocalls is at the source – either the entity responsible for initiating the calls, or the voice service provider that is allowing them onto the network.

Years ago, it was arduous, time-consuming and sometimes impossible to find the source. Now, traceback lets us identify the gateway provider (and sometimes the caller) in a matter of hours. And yet the calls continue.

The force we are working so hard against is money. Despite a general consensus that illegal robocalls are evil, the players in the robocalling ecosystem make money thanks to those calls. The diagram below shows how the money flows:

This is all on the backs of American consumers. They pay the ultimate price, in terms of dollars disbursed to the scammers as well as suppliers of mitigation tools. They also pay in terms of interruption, aggravation, and loss of trust and utility in the telephone network as it ought to be.

There is no individual in the industry that will get a bonus or a raise if we eliminate illegal robocalls at the source. That solution, perversely, means lost revenues, commissions and fees for a host of players. Thus, while sympathetic to the problem, there is a lack motivation to work aggressively towards that best solution. For them, slow-rolling to maintain the status quo serves them best.

This is a situation where regulators, with their enforcement powers, have to take a strong and aggressive stand.

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