The Duck Text (Test) and How Banks Fail

A long time ago, in a land called Vonage, a customer's babysitter tried to call 911 and the call didn't reach the police. That and other incidents like that are from an era the growing business communications company would like to forget.

But just like Skype In and Out are as much like a real phone line to many, and as more cable companies have migrated from POTS lines to VoIP service,  we always said during the hey day era of VoIP that the "duck test" is the dividing line. For those who don't know what the duck test is, the old adage goes "if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck."

Well in today's communications environment if it looks like a call it is a call. So why isn't a text, that is sent like a text and arrives like a text,  a text? You would think it was. Well that's not exactly true, especially if you're a IT person at a bank. 

I first discovered this a few years ago when Chase, one of the USA's leading banks wouldn't send a verification text to my Google Voice number which is tied back to Bandwidth, one of the larger providers of telephone numbers to the telecom community. Over time, other banks including Citibank and Wells Fargo have also followed suit, under the (ir)rationale belief that Bandwidth or Voxbone supply numbers that are all VoIP numbers, and that all VoIP numbers are used by fraudsters.

This is a disturbing trend, when a telephone number, that is linked to a paid account (in my case GSuite) vs. a free disposable account (i.e. Gmail only) is not considered a verifiable number.

From a consumer's perspective, a number is a number, or as in the Vonage case, the FCC eventually ruled that all VoIP providers needed to be compliant with reaching the Public Service Access Points (PSAPs). Today almost all of them are. For texting, companies like Bandwidth are far ahead of the banks when it comes to fraud detection, as are almost all of the VoIP providers as they are the first inch of telco fraud and for years have been putting in place ways to prevent it.

Things like Stir/Shaken are the first step, but as time goes on, we're going to need smarter banks, not dumber approaches to not harm the customer who is smarter. 

Side note-in many ways the banks "tone deafness" towards modern day SMS reminds me of their insistances of using Internet Explorer for online banking on a Mac-after it stopped working on the Apple computer or 12 years ago when asked about Vishing and their replies — "oh what's that?" or " we don't want to discuss that" type of answers. Sometime customers do know more than them, as do the companies like Voxbone and Bandwidth that are on the front lines.

More on this after IT Expo!!