When Caller ID first came out back in the day of landlines, it was so exciting to think that finally, your phone could tell you who’s calling so you could decide whether or not it was convenient to answer. What a novel concept.
And of course, we trusted the display name — it was hard to imagine a day when this function would be used to manipulate or mislead us into picking up the phone.
Enter the age of illegal robocalling and our dependence on the wireless cell phone. Landlines, while still in use in many traditional business office environments, are a thing of the past within our personal lives. So why is it that the Caller ID (Caller Identification) technology we came to know and love (and used to trust) has seemingly not kept pace with our needs?
To start the dialog, we’d like to reference an excellent article written by Numeracle partner, NobelBiz, addressing some of the technical aspects of the conversation we’re having today, “Why doesn’t Caller ID Name seem to play nice within the wireless telecom ecosystem?” We think this quote frames the discussion pretty well:
A common misconception regarding the out-pulsing of alphanumeric caller-ID information is that the information is “projected” out by the carrier providing service to a dialer.
The headline of the story being, regardless of what any entity (via their originating service provider) intends to “push out” as it relates to the display a Caller ID Name, the whole system hinges on the terminating device (the cell phone of the person you’re calling). If they’re not on a network that looks up and passes along Caller ID Names and if they’re not on a cell phone that’s configured to show the name, everything falls flat and the caller remains unidentified by name (or could become identified as Potential Spam instead).
Up to this point, we’ve made the assumption that if you’re not seeing Caller ID Names displayed on incoming calls to your device, that you’re a wireless subscriber on a network that requires you to pay to receive Caller ID Naming information with an incoming call, and you have elected not to opt in to this service.
The basic wireless plan on Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint all currently require you, as the subscriber, to opt into a paid Caller ID service in order to be able to receive this naming information with incoming calls (from contacts not saved into your contacts list). In July, T-Mobile became the first of the big four to pass Caller ID Names to subscribers at no additional charge. For more information on this announcement, check out our blog post on this change to Caller ID Name display across carriers.
The T-Mobile announcement was very exciting for Numeracle Verified Identity™ clients, as these organizations will now be able to see their preferred Calling Party Name displayed to subscribers across this network (a feat that would not have been possible without T-Mobile and Numeracle partner, First Orion).
We believe it’s likely that other carriers will look to extend Caller Names (at no additional charge) in the coming months leading up to STIR/SHAKEN. The display of a Calling Party Name also commonplace in the call blocking and labeling app ecosystem, where an available/suggested name is displayed by default in most cases (albeit, sometimes quite erroneously).
Herein lies the importance of establishing a trusted, Verified Identity. If the wireless ecosystem doesn’t know who you are (because you haven’t told them) they will rely on reasonable analytics (aka call blocking and labeling algorithms and crowdsourcing) to try to determine who you are. And as you might imagine, this can result in naming inconsistencies, a name that’s not even close to yours displayed in error, or the old fallback of Scam, Spam, or Fraud displayed in its place.
If the analytics behind the wireless communications you rely on to conduct business aren’t sure exactly who you are or if you’re a trustworthy source of communications, they're going to default back to their own determinations, classifying you based on call patterns, consumer reports, complaint data, etc.
To stand out from the bad actors abusing this channel for their own gain: let the ecosystem know you’re not trying to mislead consumers, you’re not trying to hide, and you want your consumers to know who you are. This will become even more important as the industry adopts increased “Know Your Customer” protocols for call originators and traceback mechanisms via STIR/SHAKEN.
By taking the time to establish a Verified Identity you are taking control of the way your Calling Identity and Caller Name are presented to your patients, members, clients, and prospects, and preventing erroneous call blocking at the network level.