Spam vs Scam … oh, the difference one letter makes.
Molly Weis, VP of Marketing
March 5, 2020
What is Spam Labeling?
In the wake of increasing consumer complaints to the FTC of ‘too many unwanted calls received,’ call blocking and labeling algorithms have been put to work by the major wireless service providers to identify factors that may help to identify an incoming call as one you may or may not want to answer.
Warning labels take different shapes and forms across the top service providers based on the data provided by carrier-partnered 3rd party analytics companies.
Each of the top carriers, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer a free service to block calls identified in the highest risk category by their 3rd party analytics. As such, calls identified as Scam, Scam Likely, Fraud Risk, or Potential Fraud (the exact terminology varies across service providers) can be blocked before ringing into the consumer or sent straight to voicemail.
How is Spam Labeling Determined?
The classification of the spam call is presented in many forms: Nuisance, Spam Risk, Potential Spam, Spam Caller, etc. and these labels’ origin is heavily tied to consumer-reaction to calls placed, call volume, and dialing patterns.
Some things to consider, if you find your numbers have been labeled in a Spam category would be:
How often are consumers hitting the ‘report spam’ button on the apps they’re using?
How often are consumers reporting your calls as ‘unwanted’ to entities such as the FTC, or directly to their carrier?
How often are consumers complaining about the tactics you’re using to reach them via phone?
Is the average outbound call volume on your phone numbers consistent or widely fluctuating?
How many attempts are you making to a called party per day? Per week?
How is volume distributed over the course of the day and/or week?
During which hours are you calling?
Are the voicemails you’re leaving transparent in why you are calling and who you are (where permissible by industry regulations)?
Are Spam Labels Removable?
Unfortunately, there is no easy button to press to make all of your Spam labels go away forever.
Even through pre-defined paths to ‘register’ or ‘whitelist’ phone numbers directly with analytics providers, carriers, or 3rd parties, there are no guarantees that Spam labeling won’t return without additional actions needing to be addressed, and ongoing monitoring to assess new issues.
Being that these labels are so closely tied to calling behaviors and consumer reaction to your calls, it simply wouldn’t make sense from an industry perspective to allow companies to add phone numbers to a ‘good list’ with no repercussion for these companies turning around and calling a consumer 13 times in one day, for example.
Though the feedback loop of call labeling includes a percentage of errors, the ongoing element of consumer reaction and perception of calls (whether good or bad) is a necessary building block in returning trust to the voice channel. With an attention to best practices and number reputation monitoring in place, erroneous labels can be tackled through what's called an "appeals process." Not all providers in the phone number reputation have created a process for this; luckily Numeracle has!
What Steps Can I Take to Improve My Numbers' Reputation?
The first thing you can do is address your blind spots. If you’re not sure whether or not your phone numbers are impacted by call blocking, Scam, Fraud, or Spam labeling, try calling your own cell phone from a business line, or work with a trusted industry partner like Numeracle to achieve this visibility in a data-driven, ongoing fashion.
From there, Numeracle provides its Verified Identity customers to appeal these labels directly with the providers across the network who are displaying the labeling to their subscribers. This process has an extremely high success rate.
These labels can also identify other blind spots across organizations. Spam labels can identify potential compliance issues where consumers are more negatively perceiving some phone numbers over others. They can also illuminate necessary changes to your dialing strategies that will help you prevent improper labeling from occurring and achieve the long term improvements to contact rates you’re searching for.