How to protect your business from robocalls and spam

7 min read

Don’t you hate robocalls?

I do. I get 10 to 15 daily calls.

Before I would hang up on them as soon as I hear one, now I don’t even answer my phone.

So, do my family and friends.

Even the FCC gets robocalls. They’re downright annoying. Knowing how much people hate them, you’d think robocalls would get the message and stop them.

The number of robocalls consumers get yearly keeps increasing.

They’ve been increasing for years. Call blocking service YouMail reports that almost 48 billion robocalls and scam calls were made to U.S. numbers in 2018—with 25 billion already being placed nationwide in 2019. YouMail also says that Americans get 5 billion monthly. These calls often target the most vulnerable populations, like the elderly and people that don’t speak English well.

At Unicom, we know just how time-consuming and frustrating robocalls are for businesses. In addition to getting hundreds monthly on our phones, we filter out at least 1000 calls per month for our clients. That’s a waste of time and money. Some people say not to answer your phones. But when consumers stop answering them, companies miss critical connections, and legitimate businesses lose money.

Working closely with our clients, we’re able to block 95% of robocalls a client gets using our pre-recorded messaging service. Instead of funneling the call directly to a person, we use a pre-recorded message from the client to provide caller options, like dial 1 for sales, dial 2 for support, and so on. Our live agents filter the remaining calls.

These message causes the automatic dialer to hang up instantly, saving clients time and money and eliminating headaches.

This blog post discusses robocalls calls, provides information on the new robocalls rules implemented by the FCC, and offers tips on how to reduce their impact on your business.

Specifically, the post addresses the following topics:

  • Robocalls and their impact on consumers
  • Common types of robocalls/spam call to avoid
  • New robocalls rules FCC recently implemented
  • Tips countermeasures to beat these types of calls

We think you’ll find the article both informative and useful in combatting robocalls personally and business-wise.

Robo Calls: Up Close and Personal

Robocalls are automated phone calls that use computerized dialers to deliver pre-recorded messages. Businesses, politicians, telemarketers, and emergency personnel—they and others use them all the time. They’re a way for callers to reach large numbers of people quickly and efficiently.

But robocalls are annoying. The FCC says it gets about 400,000 complaints about robocalls daily. Below are several of the most common types:

  • Neighbor spoofing — This type of robocall “spoofs” or imitates a local telephone number, maybe even a neighbor’s, to make it look like a local person is calling instead of an out of towner or someone using a toll-free number. This type of robocall is quite common.
  • Health insurance calls — These robocalls say they’ll help you find the right health insurance for your situation, tell you-you’re not getting the most from your health insurance, or offer you discounts on health insurance packages. Originators are just trying to get your personal information.
  • SEO/Google calls — This type of robocall has callers tell small businesses that their listing on Google Search or Google Maps are about to disappear and they would list their companies as closed unless they pay for some unnecessary SEO services. This robocall type works quite well for callers.
  • IRS scam — Perhaps the boldest of all frauds, this type of robocall features scammers and criminals pretending to be the IRS. The callers then ask you to pay a fake tax bill. The callers use fake tools, like counterfeit IRS titles and badge numbers, to legitimize the call.
  • Local Map verification scam — Caller tells owners of small businesses they need to verify an online map listing. Naturally, the caller wants your company’s sensitive information to continue the listing. They then use that information to raid the organization’s financial accounts.

know a little more about the different types of Robocalls

know a little more about the different types of Robocalls

The above are among the most popular types of robocalls out there. With the country gearing up for the 2020 elections, you can expect to get more as we get closer to November.

New Rules Empower Carriers to Protect Customers

The FCC’s new rules promise to reduce the number or robocalls. The rules give carriers new flexibility in blocking them and extend protections to consumers that many didn’t know they had. The new rules empower carriers to block unwanted robocalls by default.

The carrier can use specially designed algorithms and scanning programs to identify unwanted calls. Carriers, however, must let customers know they’re using the technology and give them opt-in tools to block calls based on their contact list.

The new rules are part of a wide-ranging effort by the FCC to crack down on robocalls and scam calls. Additional activities in the program include taking enforcement actions amounting to millions of dollars on illegal robocalls, providing consumer options on tools to block calls from any number not on a customer’s “white list” or contact list, and pushing phone companies to employ caller ID authentication to help reduce illegal spoofing.

Keep in mind also that phone companies will eventually roll out Approved Caller ID based on brand new technology standards later in the year. FCC plans to provide phone companies that offer this service “a safe harbor” against legal action. If they block calls that don’t have verified caller ID, they won’t get in legal trouble.

Major companies are also tackling the issue of robocalls head on. Take Google. It’s Google Assistant lets users screen calls from unknown numbers. The VA answers the number, asks who’s calling and why then provide you with a transcript of the conversation. You can then decide to call back or not. That’s a step in the right direction.

You can learn more about the agency’s activities by going to FCC Initiatives to Combat Robocalls and Spoofing and downloading the FCC Report on Robocalls.

Robocalls: A Serious Problem for Businesses

Robocalls are a severe problem for businesses. Why—because even when consumers don’t answer a robocall, callers still win, thanks in part to Caller ID. While a robocaller’s goal is to secure your credit card and bank information, it still makes incremental cash even if callers don’t pick up—thanks in large part to the numerous databases created to identify callers and transmit that information to consumers.

Whenever a caller’s name is displayed phone companies pay small fees—about a fraction of a penny—to databases storing the names. Some fees find their way back to the callers. While the amount is small, it adds up after a while. Making money this way is a grind, but it eventually pays. Meanwhile, robocallers are continually coming up with countermeasures to thwart efforts to beat call blocking technology, as hackers do with digital security measures.

Best Practices for Blocking Robocalls

With so many robocalls, what options do you have to filter out all these types of calls?

Below are several call blocking techniques that you can use:

  • Registering your phone number(s) with the National Do Not Call Registry, then complaining after getting a bogus call. Filling a complaint may seem like a waste of time, but it makes an impact.
  • Work with your phone company to block robocalls. VOIP services often have interfaces you can use for free to block numbers. Traditional landlines, however, must request this service from their phone companies. This service usually comes with a small fee.
  • Business with landlines can uses phones that lets you block phones calls and automatically blocks a number, not on your caller ID. Depending on the cost of the phone, this technique could be your most cost-effective approach.
  • If you have VoIP service, you have access to a free service, like Nomorobo. It not only blocks robocalls but also plays a message indicating your number is disconnected. Several apps provide the same service for mobile phones.

These are just some of the tools you have available to you if you’re a small business and you’re tired of dealing with robocalls.

Conclusion

While you may never be able to block them altogether, the new FCC rules, along with options mentioned above, can significantly reduce the flood of robocalls your business gets daily, weekly, and monthly.