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3 min read

The Threat of Voice Snowshoeing

Techniques Increasingly Used by Legal and Illegal Callers to Avoid Call Blocking and Labeling to be Wary Of
Written by
Sarah Delphey, VP of Trust Solutions
Edited by Mary Gonzalez, Brand & Content Manager
Published on
December 14, 2022

‘Snowshoeing’ describes the spreading of communications traffic over many outbound phone numbers to avoid traffic filtering and spam blocking. The term is derived from the classic snowshoe, which distributes the wearer’s weight over a bank of snow to avoid falling through. 

The concept has existed in email and text messaging for many years, and has become a hallmark of illegal robocall campaigns. Of new concern is the increase in services entering the voice market that appear to advertise solutions using these same tactics geared towards legitimate contact centers and businesses who are not likely aware of the potentially negative consequences.

Beware of These Tactics

If you’re searching for a solution to improve contact rates, we recommend keeping your eyes open for solutions advertising tactics that you may want to be wary of, due to the potential of negative side effects:

  • Automatic replacement of phone numbers if carrier spam labeling or blocking is suspected
  • Phone numbers algorithmically assigned based on total call volume to keep calls made per phone number under a set threshold, with the intent to evade call labeling analytics
  • Pooled, collective telephone numbers available to multiple customers of the same service. Numbers are not dedicated to a single business.

The Cause for Concern

There are multiple solutions (including some with numbering authority approved by the FCC) on the market that advertise the above tactics along with the ability to swap out phone numbers flagged as “spam,” using phone number pools to avoid call blocking or spam labeling.

While potentially perceived as an attractive short-term fix, the trend of mass automated number cycling characterized by snowshoeing upends the effectiveness of illegal robocall mitigation and call-blocking analytics industry-wide. 

Current call analytics and blocking solutions rely partly on analyzing the reputation or profile of phone numbers displayed in the caller ID field. Phone number cycling and pooling spread out calls over many phone numbers, making it more difficult for analytics providers to track call campaigns. Analytics for voice calls are at a disadvantage compared to messaging, where analyzing flagged message content can sometimes be used to associate similar text message campaigns across multiple sending numbers.  

What these number cycling services miss is that poor number reputation develops quickly due to inconsistent dialing practices. A caller can acquire a new phone number and get assigned a “scam likely” label overnight because it has negative baggage associated with it already. 

While there are some valid reasons for companies to obtain new phone numbers and get rid of old ones, relying solely on number recycling as an action to address call labeling is expensive, an incredibly poor use of resources, and gives call recipients no ability to establish trust in a calling party’s identity. 


Make the Better Choice for Your Business

Businesses making wanted and expected phone calls should have established phone numbers that customers know and trust. By registering these numbers in association with their identity, legal callers experience greater calling stability without paying the high costs to source and maintain large numbers of additional phone numbers. 

The promises of snowshoeing solution providers are appealing – self-service and call delivery without having to do any identity verification or number registration. But buyer beware. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

Unlike the providers offering number cycling or pooling solutions, Numeracle’s Number Reputation Management solution supports continuous call delivery and the remediation, or correction, of improper call blocking or labeling should it happen to legal callers. 


Taking the Next Steps

The growth of voice snowshoeing solutions for enterprises means we need to do more reduce barriers to caller registration and the remediation of improper blocking and labeling. The easier it is for legal callers to self-identify their businesses and associated phone numbers, the more unattractive number cycling becomes.

Numeracle recently filed comments in response to the FCC urging the Commission to support the creation of standards that would allow originating service providers to embed the authenticated identity of a calling party into a call. 

We continue to work with mobile carriers and our partners in the call analytics space to enhance capabilities for enterprises to verify their identity, monitor their reputation, and obtain support in the event of inadvertent blocking of legal calls. 

By working together to reduce barriers for as many legal callers as possible to verify their identity and receive appropriate support for call delivery, Numeracle and our partners ensure that businesses and consumers can communicate with confidence and trust.

If you’d like more information on how snowshoeing-style offers are presented in the market and whether your current solution uses these tactics, reach out to us and we can help.

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