Service Objects’ Blog

Thoughts on Data Quality and Contact Validation

Email *


Posts Tagged ‘Phone Appending’

The Cost of Do Not Call Defiance: Dish Facing $24 Billion in Fines

Dish Network Corp., a company with a market capitalization of about $22 billion as of last month, could be fined $24 billion for making illegal telemarketing calls in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

According to the Denver Post, U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough has already determined that Dish and its contractors made at least 55 million illegal calls using recorded messages or to consumers on the Do Not Call Registry.

Now that the judgment has been made, Judge Myerscough must determine how much Dish will have to pay in fines. There are several stakeholders pushing for hefty fines including:

  • The Department of Justice is seeking $900 million
  • Ohio, Illinois, NorthCarolina, and California are pushing for fines in excess of $23 billion

These calls took place nearly ten years ago, and Dish has already been held accountable for these violations in most states. Dish settled claims of unfair and deceptive sales practices in violation of the Do Not Call Registry with 46 states in 2009, agreeing to pay nearly $6 million. Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, and California filed their own claims, which are part of the current trial.

Consequences Beyond DOJ and State Penalties

As if $24 billion in potential fines weren’t devastating enough, Dish is already taking a serious hit on Wall Street. Dish opened the year at $56.11 on January 4th. As of February 10th, its stock had fallen to $39.71.

According to The Motley Fool, Dish isn’t really arguing its innocence during this trial, but rather balking at the excessive nature of the fines. In a motion filed with the U.S. District Court, Dish proclaimed that the proposed penalties are “a shocking amount far in excess of any penalties that the federal government has sought or obtained from any other entity for telemarketing violations, and for which the United States provides no factual support.

The Motley Fool suggests that Dish will ultimately settle somewhere in the low millions range. However, it also expects that Dish’s stock will continue to suffer until the case is resolved.

What You Can Learn From Dish Network’s Do Not Call Violations

Penalties for violating the Telephone Consumers Protect Act can add up quickly — and wipe your company out. Compliance is essential, and it doesn’t need to be overly difficult or expensive.

Worried your company could face similar fines? Check out Service Objects’ Phone Validation APIs. Our real-time phone number validation APIs can quickly identify wireless numbers, which you definitely want to avoid calling, as well as mismatches between a phone number’s account holder and the phone record you have on file. Make sure you know exactly who you’re calling and whether or not doing so is a risk.

Time Warner Cable Has A Huge Fine To Pay – Avoid Paying The Same One

In early July, a federal judge held Time Warner Cable accountable to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The judge penalized Time Warner Cable a whopping $229,500 for placing 153 robocalls to a wrong number — a cellphone belonging to Araceli King. King repeatedly notified Time Warner Cable of the error, but the calls continued, forcing King to file a lawsuit to stop the harassing phone calls meant for someone else. Even then, the company continued to call King — 74 times after the lawsuit was filed.

As smart as autodialers are, they rely on human input at some point. In the case of King versus Time Warner Cable, it appears that no one bothered to tell the autodialer to stop dialing this number. Thus, while the company knew about the lawsuit, the number wasn’t purged from the autodialer. This problem could have been avoided with phone validation software.

What You Can Learn from Time Warner Cable’s Mistake

Violating the TCPA can be costly. Time Warner was fined $1500 per call for a total of $229,500. Few businesses can afford to throw that kind of money away.

Violating the TCPA can harm your reputation and relationships with consumers. Though the initial call to King may have been an honest mistake (Time Warner Cable’s original customer was the previous owner of King’s phone number), each subsequent call became an annoyance, then a harassment. King herself, as well as friends and family, may never become customers of the company again. The negative press surrounding the lawsuit certainly didn’t help, either.  

Using phone validation can help you to avoid calling the wrong people.

Phone validation software can quickly validate a phone number to determine if it belongs to the person you believe you are calling. Our phone validation API compares a given number to a database containing current, accurate contact information for more than 400 million US and Canadian records. It returns key information including the phone number’s contact name. Had Time Warner Cable validated the phone number, it would have discovered a mismatch between its customer’s name and the phone number’s new owner. Thus, the autodialer could have immediately rejected the number, saving the consumer frustration and saving the company over $200,000. 

Using phone validation can also help you to avoid calling cell phone numbers.

Phone validation software can also identify the line type of any given phone number. This is important because recent updates to the TCPA forbid using an autodialer to call a wireless phone without prior express consent.

If you use an autodialer to place phone calls without validating phone numbers in real time, you’re at risk of running afoul of the TCPA. People change phone numbers frequently, so even a previously valid phone number can become invalid overnight. Mitigate the risk and ensure that you’re calling who you believe you are calling by using phone validation in real-time.

Why Phone Exchange Data is Like a Crisp Apple

bad-appleSmart bakers agree, fresh ingredients are the key to success. If the ingredients are bad, no baker, no matter how skilled, can make a great pie. The same is true with data services. No matter how good the support, sample code, and documentation; bad data-in means bad data-out. Bad apples mean bad apple pie.

Over the last 13 years or so, we’ve established loyal, long-term relationships with the industry’s leading data providers. These relationships ensure we get early access to the best contact data out there. Our underlying goal is to have the most accurate address, phone and email data, period. Last week, however, we discovered some bad apples. While the rest of America was
watching football, we ran an analysis on a new dataset from a provider and derived some interesting information.

As a general rule of thumb, phone service providers self-report which exchanges are assigned to landlines, wireless or other services. A phone exchange is the first seven digits of your phone number. So if your phone number is 805-966-3655 then your exchange is 8059663. It is possible to link an exchange with a line type (such as a landline or wireless) and location. For example, we know the exchange 8059663 is a landline number assigned to Verizon in Santa Barbara. Knowing the exchange type and location is an important element is detecting fraud.

OK, so here is where this gets interesting. We maintain exchange information for 1.7 million exchanges in North America. We’ve suspected that AT&T has been incorrectly reporting the details of phone exchanges in Connecticut, Maine, and Illinois. Today, we know this is true! We’ve found at least 150 exchanges assigned to AT&T reported as landlines that are actually wireless numbers. Each exchange contains up to 1,000 individual phone numbers. This means that potentially 150,000 phone numbers have been incorrectly categorized by AT&T! Phone calls made to these numbers in good faith by marketers could result in fines and legal ramifications, since they are actually cell phone numbers.

The root of this issue goes back 30 years ago when the great break-up of the telecommunication companies occurred. The theory back then was that more phone companies would be better for consumers than fewer phone companies [1]. When the break-up happened, consistent reporting of exchange information went out of fashion. No one had the time, nor the need to verify exchange assignments for Southern New England Telephone, Bell Atlantic, USWest, Sprint, CellularOne and hundreds of others.

Fast forward to today when there are fewer phone companies: mainly AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Exchange data is generally more accurate except for a few hundred exchanges that were incorrectly reported years ago. Exchange data is now a critical element for any business to decide how to route inbound calls, what offers to provide, to identify fraud, and most importantly, to assist with compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Stay tuned: more on news on TCPA compliance to come.

Having new insight for these 150 AT&T exchanges improves most of our data quality web services and is one more example of our obsession for finding the most accurate data available. Our exchange data is shared by our lead validation, order validation, and all our phone services. Having fresh exchange data is like have fresh apples for a pie. It makes life easier.

AT&T we forgive you — no sour apples here.


Dialing for Dollars – Accurate Phone Number Appending Makes the Difference

DOTS Phone Append 2 At a time when people are burdened with an overstuffed inbox, a telephone call can represent a golden opportunity in which to engage personally with your customers. Once you have a contact or potential customer on the phone, you can answer questions, address concerns and overcome objections — an ideal sales situation.

Telemarketing is the only marketing method that allows you to shift selling tactics midstream in direct response to customer feedback. According to The Direct Marketing Association 2012 Annual Response Rate Report, “telemarketing and direct mail surpass digital channels in generating the highest conversion.” Telephone marketing has a nearly 13% response rate (compared with only 0.12% for email marketing). Telemarketing is about building relationships and delivering personalized customer service with a human voice.

If you’re looking to expand or enhance your telemarketing methods, you can automatically append phone numbers to your customer and contact records. A feature-rich phone number appending service with a high match rate accuracy will save your outbound calling team countless hours of manual searching or dialing wrong numbers.

Remember: Every positive customer experience can increase business and bring in new sales. Your customers will appreciate the phone call, and your business will grow because of it — a win-win for everyone.

Give DOTS Phone Append 2 a try for free. This service allows businesses to enhance and complete missing consumer and business phone numbers and address information from their existing records, plus append additional details such as validated address, address type and phone line type for more targeted marketing.

(Read the June 26, 2013 Press Release on Dots Phone Append 2 launch.)

Service Objects is the industry leader in real-time contact validation services.

Service Objects has verified over 2.8 billion contact records for clients from various industries including retail, technology, government, communications, leisure, utilities, and finance. Since 2001, thousands of businesses and developers have used our APIs to validate transactions to reduce fraud, increase conversions, and enhance incoming leads, Web orders, and customer lists. READ MORE