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4 min read

Scam, Fraud Alert, Spam Likely, Nuisance Caller, etc.

The Story of Call Labeling Technologies: Deconstructed
Written by
Molly Weis, VP Marketing & Communications
Published on
August 20, 2019

Robocall identification solutions designed to block and label the truly illegal and fraudulent calls started appearing in early 2017 in reaction to the increase in phone fraud taking place via the voice channel. This is the point in time when many legal calling entities started to see their contact rates decline.

These illegal robocall identification solutions, along the way, were discovered to be improperly blocking and labeling LEGAL calls through the same technologies. This occurs due to false positives generated by call labeling analytics, which are then pushed out across the carrier and app ecosystem along with the delivery of an incoming call. This is how a legal calling entity may find their legitimate business calls erroneously labeled as a “Scam,” “Fraud,” “Spam,” or “Nuisance” call, etc. And the list goes on.

Industry Response

As consumer complaints to the FTC and FCC continued to increase, the industry continued to move toward more aggressive solutions to combat both “illegal” and “unwanted” calls. One such solution is STIR/SHAKEN, which is in the process of being implemented across the carrier network to cut down on the illegal spoofing of phone numbers.

STIR/SHAKEN will validate that an incoming call is being placed on a real phone number and the person calling is authorized to use the phone number. However, an additional layer of trust on top of this will be needed in order to let consumers know that in addition to the phone number being real, and the caller being authorized to use the number, that they can also trust the originating caller to be a legal, Verified Identity™. This second layer of caller identification will be determined through a process called attestation.

In addition to STIR/SHAKEN initiatives taking place across industry, The FCC call to action on the carriers to implement more robust robocall identification strategies has been picking up a lot of steam. This is especially true over the last few months in reaction to the FCC’s June Declaratory Ruling allowing carriers the ability to block calls by default.

In advance of the ruling being passed, Numeracle attended Ex-Parte meetings with each of the FCC commissioners’ staffs to share our evidence identifying legal calls at risk of continued or future improper or erroneous blocking. And since the ruling has been passed, we’ve continued to be an active voice in advocating on behalf of the delivery of legal, wanted calls. Our recent partnership with NetNumber is a testament to this.

Nonetheless, AT&T was the first to go on record in early July stating they’ve already started to block calls identified as “fraudulent” on their network. We believe the other top carriers will also be moving in the direction of the default blocking of calls based on “reasonable analytics,” which come in the form of a number of 3rd-party call analytics companies who have developed algorithms to perceive potential risk as associated with answering an incoming call.

Call Labeling: What You Need to Know

Call labeling terminology varies across the calling ecosystem as a function of nomenclature specific to each service or caller identification app provider. Some examples of popular call labels presented by widely-known providers include those previously identified herein, such as “Fraud,” “Scam,” and “Spam Likely.”

Labels are associated with individual phone numbers belonging to a call originator and will vary from number to number. Phone number labels are also constantly changing as the labeling algorithms ingest new data including, but not limited to, new consumer complaints on phone numbers, suspicious spikes or changes in volume, consumer-generated blocking of a call through an app, and so on.

Who sees these labels will also be a representation of the called party’s device configuration, service provider, or any 3rd-party caller identification apps the user may have installed on his or her mobile phone. Regardless of whether one call labeling provider classifies a number as “Scam,” some consumers will still just see the number ring through on its own, while others who are currently receiving or subscribed to a call blocking or labeling service may find this “Scam” call going straight to voicemail, blocked at the network level, or ringing through with an identification as a “Scam” warning label that replaces the phone number itself on a mobile phone’s display screen.

There are many discrepancies from provider to provider, device to device, and user to user, so it’s important to keep in mind that there is no one answer to how your phone numbers will be presented to every single user you’re calling across the network.

Visibility Into Call Labeling Across the Ecosystem

In order to provide insight and control to improve how a call originator’s phone numbers are perceived across the top analytics, app and carrier networks, Numeracle offers a Certification and Registration solution to provide this insight into as little as one phone number or upwards of thousands of phone numbers.

By certifying a call originator as a Verified Identity and registering the entity’s phone numbers, Numeracle is able to provide ongoing reporting
(via an online portal) into how an entity’s entire portfolio of phone numbers is being risk-perceived and labeled. Also, through the completion of the Certification and Registration process, any erroneous “Scam” or “Fraud” labels associated with a Verified Identity’s phone numbers will be removed and prevented from future return.

Numeracle’s Certification and Registration solution extends across the top wireless service providers. Our aggregated view of call labeling data across this ecosystem, coupled with ongoing support from our Client Engagement team, gives you visibility and control to improve the accuracy of your number labeling and drive more effective call delivery strategies.

As the call labeling industry works to improve the accuracy of its technologies along with the speed and agility to address the erroneous or improper blocking of legal calls, Numeracle has forged a path and will continue to advocate for the delivery of critical, wanted calls across a variety of calling intents and end markets.

To explore how you can improve your ability to connect with consumers by removing the roadblocks of improper “Scam” and “Fraud” labeling, please contact us.

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