Keeping it up with the Scammers 01
Developing technology to screen scam calls

We all have been on the receiving end of scam phone calls. To the majority of the population who are aware of the nature of such calls, it only serves as a short disruption to their daily routine. However, the uninitiated has a much higher chance of becoming a victim of the swindle. As scammers embrace new technologies to mask the deceit, it’s become increasingly difficult to differentiate a genuine telemarketing call from a hoax. The burden has now fallen on the shoulder of call protection agencies to develop new and ingenious software’s that can identify such spam and scam calls.

At the forefront of such development is First Orion, a leading provider of phone call and data transparency solutions in the United States. The Arkansas based enterprise company currently provides call management and protection services to major network carriers, including T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile. In 2017, the company launched its First Orion Network Enterprise Solutions (FONES) that enabled carriers to protect subscribers from malicious callers. More recently, First Orion announced its plan to embed a groundbreaking, in-network technology known as CallPrinting into its partnering carrier’s network from early 2019. CallPrinting has the capability to identify and combat emerging scamming techniques in order to thwart fraudulent calls and mitigate the number of spam calls.

One of the most prevalent methods implemented by scammers is known as “neighborhood spoofing”, which places hoax calls from dynamic phone numbers prefixed by the local area code – in an attempt to fool the receiver into taking the call. Third-party call blocking apps are impervious to such tactics, as they rely on existing databases to weed out scam phone numbers from real ones. This is where CallPrinting steps up with its innovative technology. Using Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, First Orion has analyzed more than 50 billion customer calls placed over 18 months to identify patterns of scam calls. By utilizing that knowledge, the CallPrinting software is able to protect against spoofing by making “real-time decisions on incoming calls” and “intelligent analysis of phone call and network-wide data”. In the end, CallPrinting uses its ML algorithm to continuously update its protection against new scamming techniques.

First Orion made the announcement following the publication of its 2018 study titled “Scam Call Trends and Projections Report”. The study reports that the percentage of scam calls placed in the U.S. has increased from less than 4% in 2017 to almost 30% in 2018. The study also mentions that, unless technology is implemented to quell the rising trend, the percentage is projected to rise to almost 50% by 2019. The company hopes that the projection will instill fear into the heart of the industry and drive them to implement robust measures against nuisance calls.

Meanwhile, Tech companies have also joined the race to develop their own spam filtering apps. Google is set to release the Google Phone App, which uses a ‘call screening” feature to identify suspicious calls before sending such calls directly to voicemail. However, it lacks the ML enabled technology implemented by CallPrinting.

Thanks to the advent of a multitude of instant messaging apps, the number of calls placed through mobile phones are plummeting at a rapid rate. Nonetheless, an increasing number of such calls are gradually becoming fraudulent. Through innovative ML technology, agencies can now develop software’s that effectively screens such scam calls – and can be adopted by network carriers to aid their customer base.