Scam phone calls have existed for years. However, robocalling technology — systems that allow parties to dial numbers automatically or use prerecorded voice messages — have made receiving fraudulent calls much more common. Though there are many types of non-fraudulent robocalls, ranging from emergency alerts to solicited telemarketing messages, the number of illegitimate calls remains significant.
In response to the growing number of scam calls to mobile phones, many carriers and third parties have created tools to identify and block scam calls. Unfortunately, these tools aren’t perfect. Businesses that use legitimate robocalls, and even some that don’t, may have their numbers incorrectly marked by scam ID technology, particularly when calling cell numbers. With smartphones in the hands and pockets of the majority of people, you need to know that your calls are reaching your customers.
What Is Scam Likely Caller ID?
In an attempt to improve customer experience, the carrier T-Mobile launched a feature called Scam ID, which is automatically enabled on T-Mobile and MetroPCS devices. When someone calls one of these devices, T-Mobile checks the number against its database of reported scam numbers. If the source matches a reported scam number, the person being called sees a message that says “Scam Likely” alongside standard caller ID. The user can then decide whether or not to answer the call.
In addition to Scam ID, T-Mobile and MetroPCS also allow customers to opt into a Scam Block feature that prevents all Scam Likely calls from reaching the user’s phone. Though T-Mobile was the first carrier to integrate this feature into their service for free, other carriers have since introduced their own paid and free versions. Third-party apps also allow smartphone users to detect, report, and block scam calls.
While Scam Likely Caller ID features do help users avoid potential scams, they sometimes mark legitimate calls incorrectly. To understand why let’s take a look at what Scam ID uses to identify risky calls.
What Scam ID and Other Services Look For
To identify likely scam calls, T-Mobile’s Scam ID looks for two main traits associated with fraud and robocalling: a high volume of calls originating from the number and existing complaints filed about the number. This means numbers marked with “Scam Likely” tend to be either numbers that originate a large number of robocalls or numbers that have a record of being reported by recipients as scams.
Scam ID successfully blocks many illegal calls. However, there are two problems that lead to legitimate calls being blocked:
1. The algorithm fails to distinguish between legal and illegal robocalls: Because the system looks only for high-volume originating numbers, the service may mark legal robocalls as scam. Examples of legal robocalls include calls from non-profits and telemarketing calls made with a person’s express consent.
2. Users may report a number erroneously: Some people avoid calls from all unknown numbers. As a result, some customers may report your number without answering the phone. If this happens enough, your number will be marked Scam Likely.
How Scam Likely Phone Block Can Hurt Your Business
Getting a number marked Scam Likely incorrectly is common for businesses and organizations using legitimate robocalling. This mislabeling can harm your business by:
- Preventing people from getting your calls: If a customer has Scam Block or an equivalent feature enabled on their phone, they won’t receive your calls, leading to lost leads and a decreased number of call responses.
- Convincing people to ignore your calls: People tend to ignore or decline calls accompanied by scam warnings, which could lead to miscommunication and lost leads as well.
- Creating customer dissatisfaction: When customers don’t receive a call they’re expecting, they can become frustrated with your business. Miscommunication created by Scam Likely caller ID can lose you customers, especially if it prevents you from delivering your product or service on time.
Four Ways You Can Avoid Being Marked Scam Likely
Because getting incorrectly listed as a scam number can have an enormous impact on the success of your business, you need to take steps to avoid being marked with this caller ID. Use these strategies to protect your number:
1. Understand robocall laws: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has laws about making robocalls. Making sure you understand the FCC’s robocall laws helps you stay off scam number databases and gives you legal ground should your number be marked incorrectly.
2. Originate calls individually: If you can originate calls to customers individually, do so. This prevents Scam ID from identifying your number when searching for high-volumes of calls coming from a single number.
3. Ask customers to save your number: Some third-party scam blocking apps allow users to block calls from unknown numbers. Others even generate databases by excluding numbers stored in users’ contacts. Asking users to save your number can help ensure your call reaches them successfully.
4. Change numbers often: Most large contact centers change phone numbers often to avoid getting marked Scam Likely. You can also use this strategy, though it may not be practical for every business.
What to Do If You’re Already Marked Scam Likely
It’s often easier to avoid getting marked as a scam than to resolve the problem after the fact. The fastest way to get your company’s calls removed from a scam list is to contact the cellular carrier that is incorrectly flagging your calls. However, you can also use these strategies to resolve the mistake and mitigate losses:
- Report the mistake to the carrier or blocking service and request a correction (links below)
- Keep customers informed and ask them to turn off their scam call blockers
- Temporarily switch to another communication channel, such as email or use a different outbound calling number temporarily
Your ability to reach customers is an essential part of keeping your business running. As a result, you need to ensure your calls reach recipients without the burden of a Scam Likely label.
Further resources for individual cellular providers & spam mitigation services may be found below:
T-Mobile / Metro PCS
|First Orion / Call Transparency||https://calltransparency.com/|
|Call Label: “Spam Likely”||https://reportspam.spectrum.com/charter/|
Comcast’s Xfinity Voice Service
|Call Labels: “Blocked – High Spam Risk” or CNAM prepend of “Spam?”||:www.xfinity.com/support/articles/report-call-blocking-errors or 844-963-0215|
|Third party spam blocking firstname.lastname@example.org|
Registering Phone Numbers with Analytics Providers (as preventative action or to report spam calls)
Free Caller Registry
|www.home.neustar/support||Refer to the contact information under Communications > Robocall Mitigation|