Caller ID verification could be coming to the iPhone soon

STIR and SHAKEN finally result in some truly identified Caller ID.

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Most people are surprised that Caller ID isn’t verified in any real fashion. With the appropriate software or third-party service, a spammer, scammer, phisher, or abuser can set Caller ID to nearly any number that will then appear on your phone.

Or, at least, that was true until relatively recently, when a pair of systems referred to amusingly by their acronyms STIR and SHAKEN finally allowed carriers to use cryptographic means to track a phone call’s assigned number from its origin all the way to your phone. It requires a lot of moving pieces, as telecommunications firms all have to work together to let the verification chain occur, but the FCC has heavily promoted it.

mac911 verified call contacts IDG

A contact’s recent calls list shows the verified checkmark and a tiny note (checkboxes highlighted with added arrows).

Phone companies hope it will reduce the ocean of spam calls that occur when the majority of legitimate calls (or perhaps all of them) have a verification mark, and spam calls don’t. That will let Apple and Google, carriers, and third-party app makers more readily identify illegitimate calls—and make everyone happier.

This has been in the works for nearly two years and appeared first in iOS 13. But by my experience and that of others, we’re just starting to see evidence of it on a regular basis.

mac911 verified call recents list IDG

The Recents list of calls shows a tiny checkbox next to the call type (checkboxes highlighted with added arrows).

Unfortunately, Apple still doesn’t present the verification in a useful way for incoming calls. While Android in some versions will identify that an incoming call is from a verified number, Apple only reveals that in the Phone app’s Recents list and in a contact’s page that shows a list of dates and times of recent calls. You can review a call you missed or let hit voicemail to see if it was verified, but that’s less useful.

It’s something carriers asked Apple to change back in September 2019 and are still waiting for. It’s odd to not offer this improvement, as it’s a win-win: better identification of valid calls and less aggravation for iPhone owners.

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