In: Telemarketing News

Flagged calls are meant to offer consumers protection from robocallers. These flags should also be a positive development for legitimate businesses that have had their reputations damaged by bad actors in the industry. In reality, flagged calls have become a bane for contact centers across the US.

When your phone numbers receive flags, your answer rates plummet, and it becomes nearly impossible to reach your customers, leads, and prospects. Even though these flags are a big part of your business life now, you may still have questions about the process.

How do phone numbers actually receive flags? And how does call labeling tie into flags?

The Emergence of Call Labeling from Call Blocking Apps

The FCC decided to take action because consumers were getting bombarded by unwanted and illegitimate calls. The government agency’s answer was to announce that carriers would be responsible for finding a way to protect consumers from robocalls. Since call blocking apps had already been around for some time, carriers realized they could aggregate data from these apps to develop a streamlined process to protect consumers. 

Stopping robocalls was impossible at the time of the FCC announcement, but carriers realized adding call labels would help consumers decide which calls to answer. This process began with developing labels for potential fraud and spam calls. However, this effort branched out into creating more call labels.

Call labels can vary depending on the carrier, call blocking app, or device a consumer uses. Flagged phone numbers use call labels, more specifically, warning labels, to inform consumers of a call’s possible intent. And while these labels do help consumers avoid robocalls, problems with the process have led to call recipients blocking legitimate calls. 

What Are Call Labels?

Carriers apply call labels to a phone number to indicate the intent of a call. This action is intended to give consumers information so they can determine if they should answer a call.

Warning Labels

Warning labels are the type of call labels that indicate a call might be malicious or simply a nuisance. Not all spam calls are malicious, but they all could be deemed nuisance calls. Warning labels include:

  • Scam Likely
  • Fraud Risk
  • Potential Fraud
  • High Risk
  • Potential Spam
  • Nuisance Likely

The labels used vary according to the carrier or app applying them. Typically a call with a warning label is referred to as a “flagged call.”

Intent Labels

Another type of call label is the intent label. These are not malicious calls, so the labels simply indicate the intent of the call. These labels are broken into categories to inform consumers. They include: 

  • Telemarketing
  • Political
  • Survey
  • Charity/Nonprofit
  • Informational
  • Account Services
  • Prison/Jail
  • Private

While these calls are not malicious in nature, many consumers may not want to be bothered by them. Intent labels allow consumers to screen a call before deciding to answer it.

What Determines a Flagged Call?

A flagged call is one that carriers decide is a “robocall” or a spam call. When enough reports are filed against the caller, they will begin to receive flags. Also, carriers will issue flags if the caller’s behavior reaches a certain negative threshold. Then algorithms tally these flags into scores that may result in a number being flagged (receiving a warning label.)

A flagged number will also display a corresponding warning label with the consumer’s carrier, device, or app, usually causing them not to answer. Because these flags are so influential, you need to understand where the data comes from.

Sources of Flag Scores

Flag scores are not random. They are usually generated from one of two sources: consumer feedback or call analytics from carriers. This data is collected, aggregated, and then analyzed to determine a score for a phone number.

Consumer Feedback

Consumers can manually report a number by using a call blocking app, contacting the FCC, or reporting it to a carrier. Once a number gets too many reports or too many blocks, it can be deemed an “unwanted call.”

Call Analytics

Carriers and some third-party providers analyze the network and the live traffic flow of calls. This data includes call frequency activity, call origination, and call attestation ratings. If a business places more than 100 calls from a single number per day, carriers may deem it a robocall.

Some networks might use honeypots, servers that contain numbers meant to attract scammers or in-network captchas to identify robocalls. Existing databases are incorporated into the process from lists compiled by the FCC and other government and private entities. All this data is collected, analyzed, and used to determine a call score. Robocallers have fewer places to hide.

How Are Scores Determined?

Call scores are determined differently by various entities. Most use algorithms to assign a rating score to a number. These numbers are often updated and change frequently between aggregators.

These are some of the top-scoring systems, using a 0-100 point scale:

  • Icehook: Flags a number as “Scam Likely” when a score reaches between 81-100.
  • TrueSpam: Applies flags to a number when it reaches a score between 60-100.
  • Telo: Flags a number when they reach a score between 65-100.

Other aggregators use a “true/false” system to indicate if a number is flagged:

  • FTC: Uses consumer feedback to determine if a number should be flagged based on reports.
  • Nomorobo: Uses consumer feedback and call analytics to determine if a number should be flagged.
  • Robokiller: Aggregates consumer data, call analytics and honeypots to determine if a number should be flagged.

These are just some of the ways call scoring occurs. Every aggregator uses its own method to determine what numbers are issued flags. Carriers and apps then use this data to either display an appropriate warning label or block a call outright.

How Can Labels Be Helpful?

Warning labels were designed to protect consumers, many of whom refuse to answer unknown calls because they might be from spammers. However, warning labels can also instill trust in consumers. They alert consumers to illegitimate calls so they feel free to answer unknown numbers that do not have a warning label. In this way, legitimate businesses can reach more of their customers, prospects, and leads.

Purchased Phone Numbers Already Flagged

It is important for your business to always be wary of purchasing numbers. The phone numbers on these lists are often recycled, meaning someone has used the number in the past. If they used it maliciously or just carelessly, the number may already come with a flag.

To avoid this problem, purchase numbers from trusted vendors and then scan them for flags before using them. Doing so can help safeguard your reputation.

Monitor, Manage and Mitigate

Protecting your business from negative call labels means following the three M’s. You need to monitor your numbers to make certain they have not received flags. You also should manage them to make sure you do not overuse them or keep flagged numbers in rotation. Finally, you need to mitigate flags by using ethical dialing practices and staying compliant with regulations. 

Learn more about how ABM Desk can help your business succeed, or start using the software to monitor your number reputations by contacting our office in Middletown, DE. You can send us a message online or call 302.330.5146 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

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