Since the inception of robocalling systems that allow individuals and companies to dial phone numbers automatically, spam and scam calls are more prevalent than ever — and they show no sign of slowing down. In fact, a report by the UK’s communication services regulator, Ofcom, found that in just three months, nearly 45 million Brits received suspicious phone calls or text messages.
These types of calls aren’t just annoying — many are designed to defraud consumers. So, to tackle this issue, service providers and third-party app developers are creating caller ID tools to identify and block spam and scam calls.
But sometimes, these tools will mark legitimate calls incorrectly. As a business owner, the last thing you want is for your customers to see your phone number marked as “spam”, “spam likely”, “spam risk” or “scam likely” when you call them.
In this article, we’ll explain why your number might be showing up as spam and advise on what you can do to fix this.
Your phone number will be displayed as spam if it has been flagged by a carrier or reported by a consumer. Phone carriers can flag certain numbers as spam based on call analytics, while consumers can report numbers to their carrier, block calls that don’t appear on their “allow list” or install apps that identify calls as spam.
Additionally, your number may show up as spam if it has been spoofed by scammers and their activity has caused the number to get flagged.
Continue reading to find out more.
What is a spam call?
Spam calls are unwanted and irrelevant phone calls that are made to a large number of people at random.
These types of calls are usually from telemarketers trying to sell something and spread their message as far and wide as they can.
If, like most people, you have received a spam call, it is likely that the product or service the caller was trying to sell won’t have been of interest to you, and you won’t have asked for the person to call you. This is what makes it spam.
The caller may be a representative from a legitimate business, but even if so, it will still be a spam call if they don’t know who you are and are just making their way through a list of thousands of numbers.
Spam calls that play a pre-recorded message rather than connecting to a real person are known as “spam robocalls”.
Calls marked as spam may be labelled as spam on caller ID and are sometimes blocked altogether.
Is a spam call the same as a scam call?
While the terms “spam call” and “scam call” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.
Both types of calls are unsolicited, but the key difference is that scam calls are designed to get you to disclose your personal or financial information, while spam calls aren’t usually malicious.
However, it is important to be wary of both, as many scam calls can appear to be spam calls at first.
How do carriers decide what a spam number is?
There are certain characteristics of a call that can cause carriers to believe that it is from a spam number. Some of these are:
- The same number making a high volume of outbound calls a day (10 calls per minute, more than 100 calls per day or more than 20,000 calls per month)
- A high volume of unanswered calls
- Short calls (less than 50 seconds)
- Pre-recorded messages
- Limited inbound calls to the number
- The outbound caller ID number has not been set properly (this can cause it to be automatically flagged as spam)
- A consumer has reported the number as spam
As mentioned earlier, many carriers and third-party apps have developed tools to identify and block spam calls to protect consumers against robocalling, unwanted calls and illegal calls. However, these are not always accurate, meaning some businesses may have their number marked incorrectly.
How might this affect my business?
If your business number is mistakenly marked as spam, it can have huge financial implications.
If you are unable to reach your customers, you won’t be able to make further sales, and your answer rates will plummet, meaning you have to spend more money on extra calls in order to get through.
It can also be extremely damaging to your reputation. If you are calling prospective and existing customers from a “spam” number, your brand will no longer be seen as trustworthy.
Organisations that rely on time-sensitive communication can run into even bigger problems. Not being able to confirm appointments or funding deadlines, for example, can have catastrophic effects on businesses.
How do I stop my calls from being flagged as spam?
Telephone service providers and third-party app developers create caller ID tools to protect consumers, not businesses, and unfortunately, there is no centralised database where you can dispute spam markers. Therefore, the best way to stop your calls from being flagged as spam is to employ best calling practices. To do this, you need to:
- Ensure your dialler is configured correctly — If your dialler is making too many outbound calls, you risk being flagged as a robocaller.
- Use multiple numbers — If your business has a high-volume call centre, consider setting a daily call limit and swapping out the numbers that have reached that limit.
- Monitor your numbers — Regularly check your numbers to make sure you’re not calling from ones that have been flagged. The more flags a number receives, the more likely it is to show up as spam on caller ID.
- Reduce call volume — As well as splitting calls between multiple numbers, it is best to avoid calling the same number repeatedly in one day.
- Leave a voicemail — If a call is unanswered, leave a voicemail message to increase call length.
- Increase your call-back rate — To reduce the volume of unanswered calls, prioritise qualified leads and those who have opted into your communications, call at a reasonable hour and leave your contact details over voicemail.
- Avoid calling TPS-registered numbers — The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is the UK’s official “Do Not Call” register. Calling TPS-registered numbers is against the law unless it is for market research purposes or the recipient has given you permission to call them.
- Communicate ethically — Consumers are able to report your number as spam, even if it’s just because they are in a bad mood. This means that if they have a negative interaction with one of your agents, your number could get flagged. So make sure your employees conduct themselves appropriately and use ethical scripts when communicating with customers.
If your number has already been flagged as spam, you might be able to reverse it by doing one or more of the following:
- Let your numbers cool off — Pull flagged numbers from your dialler and avoid calling them for a while. You may find that in time, the flags disappear, and you can start using the numbers again.
- Change your number — If your existing number is being flagged as spam, it may be best to permanently replace it with a new one. Just bear in mind that the number you acquire may come with a history, so before you start contacting customers, do some test calls to check it doesn’t have the same issues.
- Register your numbers — It is a good idea to register your number with all the major service providers to prove that you are a legitimate caller and reduce the risk of flags.
- Dispute the flag with the carrier or app — You can try to get in touch with the carrier or app to dispute the flag, although making contact isn’t always easy.
How do I flag a spam number?
There are various ways to flag an incoming call as spam:
Block the number in your smartphone
Most mobile phones allow you to add spam and scam numbers to a blocked number list. When you receive an unwanted call, all you have to do is go into your call log, click on the number and block it by selecting “Block this Caller” on iOS devices or “Add to Reject List” on Android devices.
If the caller tries to call you again, they won’t be able to get through.
Install an app
Many phones will also have embedded systems that flag certain numbers based on information they hold in their own databases.
Installing a third-party app will give you an extra layer of protection from suspicious incoming calls. Apps like Nomorobo, Truecaller, Hiya and RoboKiller will mark spam and scam calls as “spam”, “spam likely”, “spam risk” or “scam likely” — or they will block them altogether.
Report the number to your phone carrier
Rather than blocking spam numbers in your smartphone yourself, you can call your service provider and ask them to block the calls for you.
If they receive enough reports about a particular number, they will mark it as a spam or scam call automatically.
Report the number to the authorities
If you are registered with the TPS, you can report spam calls on their website. If you are not registered with the TPS, or you are still receiving spam calls even though you’ve registered, you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) or the Advertising Standards Authority (ACA).
Silent calls should be reported to Ofcom, while scam calls are dealt with by Action Fraud.
When reporting a nuisance call, it is useful to provide the date and time of the call, the number you were called from and the name of the organisation that called you.
Spam and scam calls are on the rise, so service providers and third-party app developers are creating caller ID tools to identify and block spam and scam calls. Sometimes, though, these tools will mark legitimate calls incorrectly. This means that some business numbers are wrongly flagged on caller ID as “spam”, “spam likely”, “spam risk” or “scam likely”.
Carriers can flag certain numbers as spam based on call analytics, while consumers can report numbers to their carrier, block calls that don’t appear on their “allow list” or install apps that identify calls as spam. Additionally, your number may show up as spam if it has been spoofed by scammers and their activity has caused the number to get flagged.
If your number is mistakenly marked as spam, it can have huge financial implications. So, to prevent this from happening, it is vital that you employ best calling practices by reducing call volume, increasing your call-back rate and communicating ethically. If your number has been flagged as spam, you may be able to reverse it by letting your numbers cool off, changing your number, registering your numbers or disputing the flag with the carrier or app.