Tech Companies Scrambling to Differentiate Robocalling from Wanted Calls

Cloud Contact Center | TMC Net

Previously Published as a World News Report by TMC Net

Robocalling is on the rise, and much of it is illegal. Because of this, Robocall blocking is also on the rise. There are obvious positives that come with such a non-intrusive technology. But these technologies are preventing legit calls from coming through, such as prescription pickups and important announcements from the local school district.

Not all robocalls are unwanted, so blockers are preventing necessary information from getting to the appropriate party. Nonetheless, these technologies continue to be supported by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC ) and telecommunications companies across the country.

Calls that would normally connect callers to businesses that they are regularly doing business with are now being interrupted, because the definition of robocalling has not be clearly defined within system protocol. Sometimes missing a call is truly a matter of life or death. This is very harmful to whom the call was meant for.

The 2015 Telephone Consumer Protection Act was established by the FCC , encouraging prosumer utilization of robocall technologies. In October of last year, an amendment was made, as the FCC announced that weekly phone data would be released to developers towards the creation of “do-not-disturb” technologies.

Perhaps this technology is so new that the kinks still need to be worked out. Then again, how do we know the kinks need to be worked out if some of our most vital calls aren’t coming through?

Tech companies are scrambling to revise current versions of robocall blocking, but others have already developed solutions that will increase accuracy for the differentiation of the automatic dialer and flat-out spam.

“Once again, the FCC is using the term ’robocall’ in a confusing and misleading manner that confuses legitimate business calls with those from telemarketers and scammers,” ACA International Patrick J. Morris said in October. “It is wrong to presume that just because a company uses modern calling technology that the call is somehow illegal or unwanted.”

There are many law firms going to bat for clientele in efforts to manually stop robocalling from illegal and unethical means. In fact, these law firms claim that their clients are eligible to receive up to $1500 per call if proven to be an unwanted call. The problem is, however, there are many ways to get around the enforcement of such a bright side to the headaches.

Many robocallers are masked through proxy numbers and third-party services. Robocallers are also being replaced by live people who are rang at the same time that we are. Those who are really hurting from robocall blockers are the businesses, which believe in innovation and rely on it to excel in thriving markets.

While companies are required to obtain written, digital or oral consent to engage in robocalling practices with clientele, many companies are being evasive in providing information without this. If you request an insurance quote or information in getting help with your student loans, you are subject to having your number passed around and recycled for months to come. Yes, this includes middle-of-the-night text messaging and other unethical standards.

Companies like Nomorobo and CallCentric’s Sipbroker are working to combat robocalling head on. It is essential to clearly define what a robocall is and what it certainly isn’t – or else, we might not become aware of a major crisis at our child’s school. And, we may miss that important meeting by not knowing that our flight has been cancelled before seeking an alternative route. 

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FTC Success Elusive In Enforcing National Do Not Call Registry

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Every two years, the FTC (NewsAlert) is required to report to Congress on the use of a National Do Not Call Registry. This includes complaints and utilization by both businesses and consumers. Gauging how well companies are adhering to guidelines and finding loopholes surrounding current laws, Congress will have a better understanding on which laws are working and which need to be amended in eliminating telephone spam and fraud.

The checks and balances system aims at bringing the average American a little more peace of mind at the start of their work day and when sitting at the dinner table.

Based on reports covering the last two years, as submitted on December 31, the lawmakers on Capitol Hill have given the thumbs up, as the FTC has demonstrated satisfactory efforts in enforcing telemarketing rules within the business world. Many of us may disagree, especially if we are continuously hounded by those companies texting and calling us at all hours of the night, telling us to “stop what you’re doing…” and trying to get us to spend more on student loan forgiveness programs than we would be going directly to Navient (formerly Sallie Mae) ourselves.

In contrast to those pirates that seem to break all the rules when it comes to telemarketing etiquette and compliance, the FTC has been taking a strong stance against illegal telemarketing practices and undertaking initiatives to combat technologies that allow these lawbreakers to hide their true identity. Robocalling has been a huge priority to the FTC in the most recent of years. The Federal Communications Commission has also adopted this concern as a major priority for enforcing ethical business practices in telecommunication.

Every five years, consumers and businesses must relist their most recent number into the registry database in adding protection to their “Do Not Call” requests. Within this time, callers won’t necessarily stop, but efforts to keep them from calling will keep them at bay. Because everyone does not play fairly, the FTC and FCC (NewsAlert) are consistently trying to combat offenders, while allowing telecommunications companies to operate within the boundaries of the law.

Timothy P. Tobin, a partner at law firm Hogan Lovells recently disclosed affirmations to DataGuidance, stating, “The real problem is where either the FTC or FCC, or private plaintiffs under the TCPA, go after legitimate businesses who are making good-faith efforts to comply with the law. For example, the FCC has made a total mess of the TCPA restriction on auto-dialed calls to cell phones with an overboard interpretation of what constitutes an autodialer and with unduly rigid consent requirements. This has had the effect of being extremely burdensome on many legitimate businesses, putting them at risk of multi-million dollar judgments and settlements for many types of calls and text messages that should not be restricted.”

Within each five year period, the FCC admits that they do scan phone numbers in prompting updated databases, ensuring newly listed numbers are adapted per request – and releasing those numbers that no longer belong to registered users. While it is easier having new numbers listed, because users tend to enforce this on their own, very few people are returning to the registry to remove their number once it is no longer theirs … prompting the five-year rule. After five years, numbers are automatically released from the registry.

Whether or not an uptick in unethical and illegal telecommunications practices subside, consumers are becoming more weary of answering telephones that are LAN line-based – if they even have one anymore. Consumers are also becoming weary of numbers that are not familiar and more hesitant to provide information on the Web that involves telephone number collection. This is one loophole that telemarketers have found in breaking the registry laws.

According to an undisclosed law firm, some of these numbers are hard to trace. And while many of them are able to be sued for upwards of $1500 a call, it may not be enforceable if you have filled out a form online and included your number for contact. Because filling in your number with a verified phone number is becoming increasingly required in submitting long, drawn-out forms. We are finding that even requesting a quote for a specific insurance company will return calls from multiple insurance companies that we have not permitted to solicit our phones.

Our data is being sold and the law is permitting it, because these unethical companies are asking our permission and requiring you to give up your rights to privacy in receiving information. While the FTC and FCC are doing a “good job” in enforcing the laws, the battle continues with these unethical companies. With new practices and the required two-year report, decision-makers in Congress will be able to find ways to continue helping our fight to enjoy dinner just one more day in peace.

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