Robocalls, one type of spam calls, are the #1 complaint to the Federal Communications Commission, with more than 80 billion robocalls made in 2021. When they are clogging your personal line, they’re an annoyance, but when spammers start targeting your business number, they’re more than that — they negatively impact your bottom line.
At Smith.ai, our company focuses on answering phone calls, which means we have a lot of experience identifying and blocking spam callers (which we do for free!). In fact, one of our employees once received a 60-minute voicemail message from a spam caller! But we also know that the #1 way to avoid spam calls — not answering unknown numbers — may work for individuals, but it doesn’t work for businesses looking for new leads.
That’s why we put together this quick guide to help you better understand how spam calls impact your business and how to eliminate them as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The FCC defines spam calls as any unsolicited advertising calls, like those from telemarketers, who are actual people seeking to sell legitimate products, and robocallers, which are automated messages.
Spam calls may seem harmless, but they may be costing your business money and putting your employees at risk.
When you answer an unknown number and it turns out to be a spam caller, that clogs your phone line, which means potential customers may not be able to reach you. It also prevents an employee from helping an actual caller and increases wait time, which can cause the customer to dump you for another service. Plus, it takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus after an interruption, so a spam call can negatively impact your work performance.
Spam calls can also harm your employees since spammers increasingly contact people at work and pose as an IRS agent looking for money. Other scammers may pose as vendors you legitimately work with and try to convince an employee they are legitimate.
Fighting spam calls is a lot like fighting a hydra: As soon as you find one solution, the scammers find a way around it.
For example, when spammers realized that people were not answering their calls because they showed up as unfamiliar area codes, they began doing what’s called phone spoofing, so their number shows up on your caller ID as a local number. In fact, spam calls from a local area code increased by 127% in 2021.
In 2022, most spam calls originate overseas, making it difficult for American regulators to crack down on them. The scammers utilize a gateway provider, a smaller company that receives the call and then passes it on to other networks. In late May 2022, the FCC passed regulations requiring these gateway providers to verify international calls before passing them on to other providers, and implemented a fine for those that don’t.
In the meantime, businesses and individuals must address the spam calls that do make it through.
As a business, you have some options to fight spam calls without missing potential clients.
How you do this differs based on the cell phone you are using for your business number.
To block spam calls on your business iPhone:
If you use an Android for your business line, take the following steps to block spam calls:
The FCC recently required all major cell phone providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN technology to identify potential spam callers, but there are limits to this initiative. Smaller providers are currently exempt from the requirement, which only applies to IP-based numbers.
There are a wide variety of third-party apps on the market that you can download to your business cell phone to address the limitations of the new regulations, including:
While this is an option for individuals, it’s not a great business strategy. Keep in mind that sending calls directly to voicemail will probably cost you leads, but it will work in a pinch if you are trying to focus on an important task that needs your undivided attention.
In a voiceover response, a recorded message gives directions for routing the call. For example, your recorded message might thank the caller for calling your business and then ask them to press 1 to make an appointment, press 2 for a billing question, or press 3 to speak to a receptionist.
Voiceover responses effectively cut off the spammer because the recorded spam message can’t select an option to move forward. It may be worth setting up a voiceover response for your business, even if all the options route callers to the same place in the end.
Smith.ai’s Virtual Receptionist plans all come with built-in free spam-blocking features. We offer an automated spam-blocking option which you can also supplement with custom spam blocking based on your individual needs.
While our Virtual Receptionist plans charge per phone call, we will only charge you for calls relevant to your business. That means that we not only proactively block spam calls for free, but we will also never charge you when we answer a call that ends up being spam.
Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof method for blocking spam calls, so mixing and matching strategies will work best. You can also practice these tips to boost your success at avoiding spam calls.
The National Do Not Call Registry was created in 2003 so consumers could inform telemarketers not to contact them for any reason. Unfortunately, adding your business number to the registry only guarantees that telemarketers won’t call you; it does nothing to prevent spammers from calling your number.
To register your number, visit the FCC National Do Not Call Registry.
If you answer the phone and suspect it is a spam call, do not engage. Answering the prompts verbally or by pressing a number flags your number as a potential target, which means the spammer may double down on contacting you. It’s also best practice to take a few minutes to block the number as outlined above.
If you aren’t sure if the call is spam and they are calling on behalf of a legitimate company, like one of your suppliers, hang up immediately and call the company back using the number on your billing statement to verify the call is legitimate.
Most importantly, let the FCC know when you receive a suspected spam call.
If you’ve registered for the Do Not Call Registry and still receive telemarketing calls, you can report the unwanted call, but keep in mind that businesses and political groups are exempt from the registry.
If the call is spam and not a telemarketer, you can file an FCC complaint.
Spam calls aren’t just a modern annoyance — they’re also a threat to your business. Let our virtual receptionists tackle screening your calls and blocking spam so you can focus on turning real phone calls from new leads into paying customers.
Our spam-blocking policy makes us unique in the industry and means you’ll never be charged for a spam call, and you’ll see an overall reduction of spam and unwanted sales calls.
Book an appointment today to see how Smith.ai can help you protect your business and employees from spam calls, alongside the many other answering, scheduling, and intake services we provide.