How to protect your business from robocalls and spam

8 min read

Editors Note: This article was originally published on June, 25th, 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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 Federal Communication Commission (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.

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 responding to them, companies miss critical connections, and legitimate businesses lose money.

Working closely with our clients, we’re able to block 95% of robocalls by using our pre-recorded messaging service.

Instead of funneling the call directly to a person, we use a pre-recorded message. The caller will be provided 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 review robocalls the new rules implemented by the FCC and offers tips on how to reduce their impact.

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. Making 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 calls tell small businesses that their listing on Google is about to disappear. They are threatening to mark 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 artificial 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 of 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. Also, 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.
  • Provide consumer options on tools to block calls from any number not on a customer’s “white list” or contact list.
  • Pushing phone companies to employ caller ID authentication to help reduce illegal spoofing.

Please know, 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.

Learn more about the agency’s activities by going here and downloading the FCC Report on Robocalls.

It’s Congress’ Turn to Act

Both the House and Senate have passed legislation to protect consumers from the 4 billion robocalls received each month.

Now is a critical moment as provisions from both bills need to be adopted.

The Senate bill has taken steps to stop spoofed calls with fake caller IDs. While the House bill goes it a step further requiring rules for stopping abusive and unwanted robocalls from ever happening.

Also, the House bill will bring relief by improving the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Strengthening the Act will guarantee that callers have consent before they make a call. Also, they must stop calling us upon our request.

Learn more about the Telephone Consumer Protection Act here.

The FCC is in charge of defining the regulations and is allowing public comments by asking a variety of groups including:

  • Industry lobbyist
  • Consumer
  • Public advocates

They have yet to clarify the regulations.

Cracking down on robocalls should be an easy problem to solve. Unfortunately, there are powerful and financial interests who are interested in keeping the status quo. They argue that consumers feel positive about receiving calls from creditors and telemarketers. Really?

We look to  Roger Wicker and Democrat Maria Cantwell, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee respectively. They need to push their colleagues to adopt all of the provisions in the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act.

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 financial information, it always makes incremental cash. Thanks in large part to the numerous databases created to identify callers and transmit that information to consumers.

When a caller’s name is displayed, phone companies pay small fees to databases storing the names. Some fees find their way back to the callers. While the amount is small, about a fraction of a penny, 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. The same as hackers do with digital security measures.

Best Practices for Blocking Robocalls

With so many robocalls, what options do you have to protect your business from robocalls and spam?

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 use phones that let you block phones calls. The phone 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 for 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.