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Leased Number Challenges: When There Is Little-to-No Usage Monitoring of Wholesale VoIP Companies

The fun of “the telephone game” is seeing how much the original message has morphed by the time it reaches the last child in the chain. The same can be said of idle gossip whispered from one person to the next until it eventually spreads into unfounded, widespread rumor: the more ears the message passes through, the more the original intent gets distorted. A similar same dynamic exists in identity verification, attestation, and validation for telephone numbers (TN).

In this article, we cover:

There are three main participants in this chain: the TN owner, the TN leaser, and call originators. TN ownersare the communication service providers (CSPs) that have been legally authorized to utilize telephone numbers allocated to them from a number administration body. TN leasers are entities that lease the use of TNs from CSPs. Finally, TN originators are network operators that originate calls using leased TNs.

Attestation begins to deteriorate when CSPs lease their TNs to other entities. This begins the process of TN care of custody tracking challenges. The identity of the call originator gets clouded in a haze of intermediaries that include brokers and leasers. With thousands of middlemen between originators and CSPS, meaningful attestation is easily lost.

This dynamic limits the effectiveness of STIR/SHAKEN. For its intended purpose, STIR/SHAKEN is absolutely effective — in a perfect world in which the originating service provider seeks verification only with the terminating service provider. However, we live in an imperfect world with great nuance. Some A- or B-attested calls turn out to be unlawful because the checks in place are event-based: Party A is TN-Validation-Passed without consideration of all the underlying gateways in between.

In other words, the practice of CSP TN leasing renders STIR/SHAKEN inadequate to completely stymie unwanted robocalls. There remains a need for optimized Know Your Customer (KYC) measures and behavior monitoring.

What Can The Industry Do?

The answer isn’t to flush VoIP networks or block their leasing business. There is too much positive upside in its flexibility. However, that very flexibility also allows fraud to run rampant. When it costs a fraction of a penny per minute to lease TNs, there is almost no friction in launching a damaging brand imposter campaign through wholesale VoIP companies. Unfortunately, there are little to no operational expenses allocated to monitoring TN user behavior via third-party, content-based analytics.

Unsurprisingly, the answer lies in redirecting resources to real-time analytics solutions. Mitigating unwanted robocalls requires identifying and scoring calls, including recommendations on when to treat calls as normal; label them as spam, scams, etc; call redirection to voicemail or IVR challenge; or blocking or not originating the calls at all. The three tools that lead to optimal robocall mitigation are:

  • KYC
  • STIR/SHAKEN
  • Behavior monitoring

STIR/SHAKEN serves to identify which networks and numbers can be trusted. If a number belongs to network A, and network B originates a call with it, STIR/SHAKEN will detect it. KYC helps knowing which call originators to trust. It can tell you who is calling, the type of business calling, and where they are located. The missing piece is how will they behave. Adding in behavior monitoring with event-based analytics and content-based analytics helps get to the bottom of caller intent by measuring and tracking TN reputation.

In other words, safe communications are only achievable when STIR/SHAKEN, KYC, and monitoring are all implemented.

Content-based analytics observes behaviors combined with data visibility to identify and provide evidential proof of wrongdoing. Indeed, while event-based analytics relies on analysis of call event data, it’s only indicative of what may have occurred but not definitive. Content-based analytics, on the other hand, analyzes data that definitively identifies illegal robocalls, such as call payload. In fact, while event-based analytics are prone to much higher false-negative rates, content-based analytics have a false-positive rate of virtually zero.

So, How Do We Overcome The Leased Number Challenge?

Enterprises and carriers must look beyond STIR/SHAKEN as a silver-bullet solution. To shut down unlawful voice and SMS communications, they must adopt a three-pronged approach to unlawful robocall mitigation. And the greatest gains can be realized by seeking KYC and behavior monitoring solutions that leverage content-based analytics to exceptional effect.

We can show you the potential risks currently facing your brand and how to remediate the potential damage or reduce risks of fines to carrier networks. Schedule a demo of YouMail Protective Services today.

 

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