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Does your business make calls into the USA? Avoid your calls being flagged as spam

Here's everything you need to know about phone number flagging in the US.

The number of businesses receiving flags on their numbers is increasing. There are a few reasons why this can happen but usually it means your calls are going unanswered by customers or prospects.

If you are calling into the USA you fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) STIR/SHAKEN protocol. The purpose of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) STIR/SHAKEN protocol is to reduce the number of spam or spoofed calls to consumers via caller ID flags, such as spam, scam likely, and other sources that can harm legitimate businesses.

Using flagged phone numbers harm your business by enacting lower call response rates, this in turn can lead to decreased productivity. This will negatively affect your costs as you try and fail to reach customers and potential leads, this negatively impacts your call response rates making it more likely to be flagged and thus further damaging your business prospects.

Why Are Phone Numbers Getting Flagged?

If one of your numbers has received a flag you need to know why. Consumers often flag unknown numbers they don’t know, or numbers that they feel are harassing them. This could be because:

  • A called party is using an app that specifically blocks your number.
  • A carrier has identified your number as one that’s making calls matching current spam reports and profiles.
  • A called party has flagged your number by mistake.

A carrier or recipient has flagged my numbers, what happens now?

When a recipient flags a number

You can be as legitimate as possible, but it’s still down to the recipient how they feel about your call.

In the US Since the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN, and even before this legislation, apps for blocking calls are common place. If you phone at an inopportune time, or dial a wrong number and that person deems it an intrusion there isn't anything you can do to convince them otherwise.

Despite this, it’s still best to continue with outbound dialing, just make sure best practices are followed and ensure your agents use some type of script to keep calls on track, legitimate and professional.

When a carrier flags a number

Carriers’ monitor best practice via methods like calling thresholds. They monitor numbers with the aim of weeding out the ones that are used for illegitimate purposes. For example, phone numbers that dial out greater than ten times per minute, 100 times per day, or 1000 per week are not likely to have been calls made by a human agents.

Your number could run into trouble with individual carriers – each have their own interpretation regarding spam thresholds. If your number ends up being flagged by a consumer then the carrier may decide to label your calls as spam or a scam risk.

Your number is spoofed

It is uncommon, but someone could impersonate you and could hijack your phone number for illegitimate reasons. This may result in your number being flagged. The only action you can take in these cases is to report your number as spoofed. STIR/SHAKEN has made it harder to spoof calls but it is still possible, always keep in mind that spoofing can ruin your business reputation so be vigilant.

Flags and their meanings

The phrase “flagged number” is common place these days. A flag, can be defined as a “warning label”, it is usually divided into different categories. Warning labels will differ depending on the carrier, but they generally involve the following:

Fraud Risk, Potential Fraud: Fraud risk and potential fraud flags mean that the number is likely a robocaller. These calls have been flagged as attempting to engage in fraudulent activities.

Scam Likely, High Risk: Similar to fraud tags, scam likely typically indicates the intent of the call is to defraud consumers.

Spam Risk, Potential Spam: A spam flag typically indicates the number dials out too heavily. This may not necessarily be a 'robocall', but the dialling software makes more phone calls than is humanly possible.

Nuisance Likely: Similar to spam flags, nuisance likely typically indicates heavy dialling activity from a number.

These flags are a general indication of what the call’s intent may be but they’re not always accurate. Sometimes legitimate businesses find these warning labels on their caller IDs. This can occur from dialling too heavily, misconfigured diallers, consumer reports, or call spoofing attempts. Sometimes newly purchased numbers may have these types of flags already attached from past usage.

A flag will typically result when a number’s “score” reaches a certain threshold.

How Carriers and Apps Score Numbers

A lone report from a consumer on a call-blocking app will often not result in a phone number flag. Call blocking apps gather data and share this with carriers. The app or carrier then determines an appropriate intent label to associate with that caller ID.

Most often it takes several consumer reports to generate a flag but carriers may flag numbers automatically if suspicious call analytics are eminating from a single number.

Thresholds for what is considered a flag vary between aggregators. Here are some examples:

  • Icehook: “Scam Likely” when they earn scores between 81 and 100.
  • TrueSpam: Applies flags to numbers scoring 60 on a 100-point scale.
  • Telo: Flags numbers at 65 and above out of a 100-point scale.

These companies will often update their algorithms and scoring systems, with this in mind scoring thresholds can vary as carriers and apps monitor call analytics.

Call Labels: Warning Labels Vs. Intent Labels

A warning label is typically referred to as a “flag” but apps and carriers can also display an “intent label” for a phone number. Collectively these are know as “call labels.”

A call label gives consumers an insight into the caller intent. In theory building confidence for the consumer answering unknown calls. While warning labels generally indicate spam or fraud, intent labels display information from known call analytics.

Intent labels generally include (but vary between carriers):

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

Missed Calls not only cause fustration but can be damaging to your reputation and your business

A phone number flag might be inconvenient, but it can also damage your reputation! Dropped calls or calls showing with a warning label will be off-putting and damage your relationship with your customers. They may feel ignored, confused, they may even question the legitimacy of your business.


Answer Rate Statistics

Many consumers will not answer calls that they don’t know. While it is difficult to measure the actual rates of missed calls, it is an increasingly common occurrence.

How Phone Number Reputation Affects Your Brand

In the US the FCC reported 45.9 billion robocalls in 2020 and 40.1 billion in 2021 as of September. If your business has become a victim of call spoofing, or if you dial customers with a flagged number this impact negatively resulting in losses in customer retention, negative word-of-mouth referrals, and reduced confidence in your brand.

If you are a business dialling into the US and you require specialist help or if your current VoIP provider or phone system is not performing as you would like then get in touch with us on 01302 247 530 or click below.





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