Collection agencies should be setting up testing facilities in their offices to determine whether the calls they are making are being blocked by wireless carriers or apps that attempt to keep individuals from receiving robocalls, according to a panel of agency executives who spoke on the topic during a webinar last week.
The webinar, which was sponsored by VoApps, brought together a trio of panelists to discuss the growing problem of call blocking and to discuss how the ARM industry should be dealing with this issue. Wireless carriers and software providers are now giving individuals the option of having calls blocked because they are believed to be robocalls. Carriers and software providers are also labeling incoming calls as “possible scam” or using other terms in an attempt to warn individuals of potential robocalls. In a growing number of cases, legitimate calls being made by collection agencies are being caught up in this growing technology net and are not making it through to their intended recipients.
To determine how the technology is affecting an agency’s calling campaign, a number of agencies have set up testing facilities in their offices, using different cell phones from different carriers, as a means of understanding how a call appears when an individual receives it.
At Frost-Arnett, for example, a project action team has set up a number of test accounts in the agency’s system and when the numbers associated with those test accounts are called, the team can see what the carriers are showing on the Caller ID as well as test the different call-blocking apps to see how they work, said Judd Peak, the agency’s chief compliance officer.
Diversified Consultants, Inc., has a similar testing sandbox to check how its outgoing calls are being handled by wireless carriers, said Robert Blair, a senior vice president at the company. Working with the carriers on numbers that have been blacklisted or blocked to get them approved can be a difficult and time-consuming process, Blair said, because the blocking service is not something that generates revenue for the wireless carriers, so they aren’t going to be terribly interested in fixing potential blocked numbers. It’s better for the industry to do the work on their own to try and keep numbers from being blocked in the first place, Blair said. To that end, the company switches the numbers it uses to place outgoing calls every few months, to keep the numbers fresh. Blair also warned about the dangers of an individual seeing “scam likely” on their phone when receiving an incoming call.
Seeing that puts an individual’s “guard up,” Blair said. “And then it takes longer to break through and to start a conversation with an individual.”
There has been some interest in a website — CallTransparency.com — which purports to “analyze and report back to you your phone number’s vitality,” but it is run by First Orion, which also runs the PrivacyStar service that allows individuals to block calls and file complaints with federal regulators. At least one industry executive is gun-shy about sharing the numbers his agency uses to make calls with the site.
“It’s a leap of blind faith to give them your numbers and hope that they will allow your calls to go through,” said Nick Jarman, chief operating officer of Credit Collection Partners. “These companies are expanding the Do Not Call list to the Do Not Want a Call list.”