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My Number has Been Marked as SPAM
My Number has Been Marked as SPAM

Learn what you can do to prevent and reverse SPAM ratings from carriers

Ellen Sluder avatar
Written by Ellen Sluder
Updated over a week ago

This is an adaptation of our blog posts 7 ways to Combat Being Flagged Spam and How Do Phone Numbers Get Marked as Spam? Click through those links to read the full articles.

For businesses that rely on calls to generate interest, speak to leads, and close deals, having a phone number marked SPAM Risk or Scam Likely can be a serious blow.

Questions abound: How did my phone number get marked as SPAM, even though I’m following all rules and regulations? Do I have to give up my phone number now that it is marked spam? How do I clean my phone numbers?

Don’t worry! While discovering that one of your business phone numbers has been mislabeled as spam is stressful, all hope is not lost.

How Spam Scoring Works

SPAM ratings are not labeled at the telephone number level. Instead, it is actually the receiving carriers who determine whether to label an incoming call as “Spam Risk”, “Scam Likely”, “Potential Spam” or other negative labels.

Each provider uses a proprietary, private algorithm to automatically assign a Spam designation. Similar to how the Google algorithm works, the scoring is dynamic and depends on many factors. However, the scoring systems used are completely decentralized. This means it can change literally from one phone call to the next, or from one carrier to another.

While the algorithms are not published publicly, we know some of the variables that factor in, including:

  • Call Volume - A sudden rise in the Call Volume might be considered unhealthy and looked upon by the downstream voice carriers.

  • Short Call Duration - Downstream voice carriers tend to raise concerns if the short call duration percentage exceeds 15%. A traffic measurement looking at the percentage of calls under six seconds relative to the total call volume. Hence, calls under 6 seconds can be indicative of unconsented or unwanted calls.

  • Average Length of Calls (ALOC) - An ALOC below 30 seconds is considered unhealthy. A traffic quality measurement looking at an average call duration across all answered calls.

  • Answer - Seizure Ration (ASR) - An ASR below 30% is considered unhealthy and will likely trigger spam complaints from downstream voice carriers. A traffic quality measurement looks at the ratio of answered calls relative to the total call volume.

  • Other indicators that hint to the carriers whether these are wanted phone calls.

These will flag potentially noncompliant calls.

For example, if a high percentage of calls from a specific phone number go unanswered, the algorithm is going to assume the calls are uninvited. Or if the call duration is a few minutes or longer, the data will show it is an engaging — and therefore welcomed — conversation.

Another factor is some knowledge of who the call belongs to. If you are an established, legitimate business that claims the phone number as yours - you are much less likely to be a scammer in the eyes of the algorithm.

What smrtPhone Does to Combat SPAM

While we do not have direct influence over spam labels, we do our best to set you off on the right foot.

  • All Phone Numbers available for purchase through smrtPhone come from underlying carriers, which hold phone numbers for 90-120 days, ensuring they have no recent traffic on them. (Please note that sometimes brand new numbers need to be "warmed up" as lack of use can also be considered a negative indicator.)

  • We automatically enroll all clients verified in the Trust Center in STIR/SHAKEN - also known as certified Caller ID, that confirms the number on display is in fact the number of the call origin. This is known to have a positive impact on Spam ratings.

  • We accept up to 10 returned numbers per month, as long as there are fewer than 10 calls or text messages on that number and you have had it in your account for fewer than 7 days. See terms and conditions here

7 Things You Can Do Now to Reduce Risk of Being Marked Spam Likely

Even with all of the opacity around spam algorithms, the good news is that you can still influence how your numbers are rated. Below are our tips for things you can do today and every day to lower your chances of your phone number being marked as spam.

  1. Register your phone numbers with data analytics providers. There are independent data registry providers who feed call analytics engines for carriers. If you whitelist your numbers with them, you are claiming ownership - which signals legitimacy - to these databases. Free Caller Registry and Call Transparency are both free and cover the largest mobile carriers in the U.S.

  2. Get verified in the Trust Center to enable STIR/SHAKEN. Learn how

  3. Use number pools with smrtDialer. When using smrtDialer for campaigns to cold lead lists, consider limiting the number of lines you use and cycle several numbers for the outbound calls by using multiple caller IDs. Learn how to use number Pools in smrtDialer

  4. Register to CNAM. Having a number registered in CNAM might increase the answering rate. Learn how to Personalize Your Caller ID with CNAM Registration

  5. Park your numbers occasionally. Giving your numbers an occasional rest from outbound calls can help decrease their spam scores. You can still receive inbound calls - so all marketing materials remain valid - but taking a breather from outbound can help.

  6. Comply with all laws, regulations, and underlying carrier policies regarding telemarketing and sales outreach. While this may be a no-brainer, we would be remiss to not mention it. In addition to regulatory compliance, be sure to follow the Golden Rule. As you put on your professional hat and make business calls, don’t take off your consumer hat. Imagine you are the recipient of the phone call you are about to place – how would you want to be treated? The better you treat your contacts, the less likely they are to lodge complaints.

  7. Diversify your marketing mix. Inbound leads are already warm and more likely to close. Phone calls are an important - but not the only- ingredient in a successful marketing and sales campaign. A healthy balanced portfolio of lead-generating activities including flyers, yard signs, advertising, events, and, yes, phone calls and text messaging, is more scalable and sustainable than a single-channel approach.

  8. Don't panic. It’s hard to not stress when you hear that your phone numbers that you’ve printed on 1,000 mailers have been marked as Spam Likely by one of the carriers. But remember: it doesn’t mean it is showing that way for all consumers, and it doesn’t mean it’s permanent.

Our best advice is to register your phone numbers with third-party white-listing services also, like Call Transparency. Carriers such as T-Mobile reference these databases to help sort who is legitimate.

Take a deep breath, follow the tips on this list, and make sure you continue to follow sound business practices for outbound sales calls. You are not the only business operating in this new environment; all businesses are facing the same increased scrutiny. It’s part of doing business. As the industry shifts, believe in your ability to adapt and achieve and continue to improve, and press forward.

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