Whatever happened to the National Do Not Call Registry? Lately, you many wonder if it’s an elaborate conspiracy that adds your number to more robocall lists. The problem with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act is that it exempts B2B calls from the Do Not Call provisions. That means your employees’ phones are--as they say---blowing up throughout the work day.
In June 2018, robocallers placed 4.5 billion calls. You've likely received a robocall at your office. If you use a mobile phone for work, these calls can interfere even more. According to software firm First Orion, spam calls accounted for 29% of all calls to mobile phones in 2018. That number is expected to reach 44% in 2019.
Never mind the annoyance; robocalls cost your company time and productivity. Multiply the number of calls by the employees in your company and you quickly see how much time they waste.
What is a Robocall?
Let's define a robocall. It’s a phone call that is irrelevant or inappropriate messages, made in mass quantities to people who have not opted in to receiving them. What makes them different from telemarketers? They come from a computer and are prerecorded, usually with some manipulation to get you to respond through voice or keypad.
It has become increasingly easy for scammers and unscrupulous telemarketers to use caller ID spoofing. It's easy, and anyone can do it.
The majority of robocalls are illegal scams. Not only are B2B robocalls exempt, but the majority of robocalls originate from outside the U.S. This means the scammers behind the calls do not care about abiding by laws. (Note, however, that political robocalls remain perfectly legal.)
The Effects on Businesses
U.S. businesses reportedly spend 20 million hours answering junk calls every year. This translates to a loss of $475 million annually. The FCC simply doesn't offer the same protections to businesses as consumers.
Small businesses suffer worse than large companies. They lack call centers or staff to prevent the calls from reaching the critical team. Remote workers also struggle with their own personal cell phones ringing frequently with spam during work hours.
Blocking by Carrier
By all means, register with the Do Not Call Registry, but take it a step further.
Each major wireless carrier has a spam filtering service. AT&T offers a blocking app called Call Protect, and Verizon Wireless also has a Call Filter service. It warns you when the filter detects an incoming call as spam, and automatically blocks and reports the number. T-Mobile also has a Scam ID and Scam Block service, and Sprint offers a Premium Caller ID app that screens calls.
If you issue company mobile phones, make it a practice to pre-install these apps. In addition, set a company policy for how to handle robocalls and make sure everyone understands best practices.
Other Robocall Defense Options
Both the FTC and Apple advise using robocall blocker apps to stop unwanted spam calls. There are tons of options, but a few stand out from the crowd. Try these apps, available for both iOS and Android:
- RoboKiller - It not only blocks spam calls based on a known database, but it automatically answers the calls with its bot with your prerecorded message. Fighting fire with fire? Maybe.
- Nomorobo - This app utilizes a master list of known bad numbers to block and filter.
- Hiya Caller ID and Block - is very similar to Nomorobo and uses a master database of scammers’ numbers.
For landlines in the office, opt for a model that includes number blocking and caller ID.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but advise employees not to interact or talk to the robocalls. When they ask you to press "1" or "2" to opt-out, they actually opt you in. Any action signals to them that the number is legitimate. Therefore, they will keep calling.
Unfortunately for legitimate businesses that need to contact customers regarding debt collection and related matters, they get blocked too. As NBC News and others report, legislators are in the process of taking a stronger approach towards spammers and carriers that allow nuisance calls to flourish.
It may seem inevitable to lose precious time and money answering robocalls at work, but you can take an active stance against it and reduce the frequency. By registering on the Do Not Call List, and using your carrier's service or third-party app, your phone lines will be much quieter.