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Posts Tagged ‘Telephone Verification’

Cold Calling in an Election Year

This election year has already had its share of surprises and upsets, and it’s just getting started. Political parties and individual campaigns alike are scrambling to reach out to as many members of the community as possible. Networks of volunteers are cold calling voters while robocalling systems are dialing numbers at an astounding rate. One metric given by an unnamed party estimates the number of calls to be around 50,000 per day within one party’s headquarters alone.

That’s a lot of calls being made. Imagine 50,000 calls per day until November 8th. That’s roughly 12 million phone calls, and that estimate is for just one political party.

As a phone validation expert, we question how these massive lists have been prescreened to ensure compliance on a number of issues.

For example, robocalling systems are prohibited from dialing wireless phone numbers. With most phone numbers being ported from landline to mobile, this leaves a much more condensed pool of potential voters to be accessible — at a time when political parties and campaigns are under serious pressure to get out the vote. By current estimates, the total available landline numbers in the United States has shrunk from 175 million to roughly 65 million active phone numbers.

Many wireless numbers are unidentifiable by contact name — even with Caller ID — unless that number has previously registered by an opt-in site. In order to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, political telemarketers need to perform some sort of phone validation on their massive lists in order to track local number portability and identify wireless and VoIP phone numbers.

Compiling a massive list in such a short time would require access to lists which may contain numbers that have since been ported or disconnected. Thus, campaigns and their robodialers may be dialing numbers that they believe are landlines, yet are really mobile phones. They may also be wasting valuable time and resources dialing disconnected numbers. Phone validation software both identifies wireless and VoIP numbers and scrubs lists for disconnected numbers.

As the race to gain key electoral votes continues, many parties are feeling the pressure to ramp up efforts to swing votes in their favor. This sense of urgency is likely enticing political organizations to seek fresh contact leads, and knowing whether it is legal to contact someone thanks to real-time phone validation would be of utmost value. Compliance is essential, and easy to accomplish with our real-time phone validation API which instantly identifies whether a phone number belongs to a landline or wireless phone.

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.

Understanding VOIP – Fixed vs. Non-Fixed

What is VOIP?

VOIP, which stands for “Voice over IP” encompasses a group of technologies which provides delivery of voice communications over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. VOIP is available as a replacement to public switched network (PSTN) in addition to subscribers using mobile phones, personal computers and other internet access devices. Some of the benefits of VOIP services include low priced or free calling and number portability, while some of the drawbacks include lack of common phone services such as phone directory, 411 and in some cases 911 services.

How Does it Work?

There are several different methods to connect voice services over the internet including using an IP phone, an Analogue Terminal Adapter(ATA), or softphone which is an application installed on an internet connected device. Common examples of IP phones include the Cisco brand phones which can be used with any VOIP service provider, while Analogue Terminal Adapters may be tied to a specific carrier (i.e. magicJack). A VOIP service provider will provide services which complete a phone call using broadband networks that are interfaced with PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)

Fixed vs. Non-Fixed VOIP

With respect to VOIP service providers, there are generally two types of VOIP services, Fixed and Non-Fixed. A client that is using a fixed VOIP service would be associated with a physical location and cannot be obtained from someone that is outside the country. Common fixed VOIP providers include Vonage, BroadVoice , and Cox Communications.

Non-Fixed VOIP services, on the other hand, do not need to be associated with an address and are thus easily obtainable by individuals that are outside the country. Common Non-Fixed VOIP providers include Google Voice and Skype. Fraudsters can take advantage of the ease of registration with Non-Fixed VOIP services to perform elaborate schemes and criminal activity that are untraceable. Identifying suspect phone numbers early that belong to Non-Fixed VOIP providers is an important first step in fraud prevention and protection.

 

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.

Stop the Hate: How Customers Can Learn to Love Telemarketers

CellPhonePlantsBannerIt’s a joke everyone knows: people hate telemarketers. But when telemarketing is part of your business plan, you need to know how to do it. The last thing your business needs are annoyed customers. Use the tips below to help your customers appreciate your calls.

1. Set expectations

Obviously, warm calling is easier than cold calling because you already have an established relationship, but your existing customers may be caught off guard by your calls. One way to overcome this is to let them know what to expect when you ask for their phone numbers. For example, if you regularly call customers a few days before you have technicians visiting their neighborhoods, let them know you’d like to call them when you’ll be in the area as a courtesy. If you can frame it as a benefit, even better. Likewise, when collecting information from prospects, set expectations such as “a representative will call within one business day with a quote.”

2. Verify phone numbers

Use a phone validation service to ensure that you have the correct phone number for your customers and prospects. Even if you’ve just recently collected the phone number, validation is important to weed out bogus entries, inadvertent typos, and out-of-service numbers. If you’re working off of a list where you have not obtained written permission to call the consumer — a must when calling mobile phones, phone verification can identify whether the phone number is wireless or not. Verifying phone numbers helps you to avoid calling the wrong people, wasting time, and giving consumers yet another reason to hate telemarketers. 

3. Provide value when you call

You know what’s in it for your business when you launch a telemarketing campaign, but what’s in it for your customers? Are you just playing a numbers game or is there real value in your outreach? What can your customers get from being on your telemarketing list that they can’t get elsewhere? How can you make them look forward to your next phone call? This goes back to point number one, setting expectations. Remind them why you’re calling (for example, “I’m calling because you asked us to call to offer early access and exclusive discounts to our clearance sale”).

Setting expectations, verifying phone numbers and providing value when you call are three essential steps you can take to stop the hate. 

Telemarketing and the Benefits of Telephone Data

As you likely know, telemarketing is subject to numerous laws and regulations, some of which can cost a company a lot of money if they don’t comply. For instance, the largest Do Not Call settlement to date resulted in a $7.5 million civil penalty payment. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is the primary legislation impacting telemarketers. This act established the national Do Not Call registry in 2003 and has since been updated to address robocalls and mobile phones.

Since the updates, it’s not just the Do Not Call list that telemarketers need to be concerned with; telemarketers also need to steer clear of calling wireless telephones unless they have express written permission. Fortunately for telemarketers, data products exist that can help them comply with these regulations. Below are a few of the benefits of telephone data for telemarketers.

National Do Not Call Registry Compliance 

The FTC makes Do Not Call registry telephone data available to telemarketers at its website. You must register with the national registry in order to view this data and import it into your dialing software. You must update your Do Not Call database every 31 days. Third party data providers also offer telephone data verification services to ensure that your database is kept current with the National Do Not Call registry as well as state registries and even the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service Listing.

The Importance of Mobile Telephone Data Verification  

While compliance with all applicable Do Not Call registries is an absolute must, these Do Not Call lists don’t necessarily address calling wireless phones — unless the wireless subscriber placed the wireless number of the appropriate lists.

With the Do Not Call list, people are expressly opting out of being called by telemarketers without consent. With wireless phones, they do not need to opt out. Rather, the telemarketer must have prior written consent before making robocalls or autodialed telemarketing calls to mobile phones. This FCC rule went into effect in late 2013. The tricky part for telemarketers is figuring out whether a phone number that’s not on the Do Not Call list is fair game or not. If it’s a mobile number, telemarketers need written consent.

So, how do you figure out if a phone number in your database is a landline or a cell phone? With telephone data from Service Objects. Not only can our various telephone data products validate phone numbers, they can also help telemarketers see whether a phone is a cell phone or a landline. 

Use Service Objects’ phone validation APIs in conjunction with National and State Do Not Call lists to ensure that your database contains only those phone numbers that you can call without running afoul of telemarketing regulations.

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.

[1] http://technologizer.com/2011/03/20/att-buys-t-mobile/

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.)

Two Types of Online Fraud Everyone Can Do Without

DOTS Telephone Verification Steps Up Site Security

The threat from computer crimes and other online security breaches has barely slowed, never mind stopped, according to a recent survey of 538 security professionals in U.S. corporations that was conducted by the Computer Security Institute and the FBI’s Computer Intrusion Squad.1

One such crime is online identity theft, and the two most popular ways to carry it out is though Phishing2 and Pharming3. Phishers bait you using provocative fake emails that send you to fake sites, and are successful because there is still a large part of the Internet population that is unaware of their tactics. Pharmers gather unsuspecting victims by redirecting legitimate URLs to bogus sites.

Armed with the information they harvest from consumer inputs, Phishers’ and Pharmers’ activities account for billions of dollars a year in online fraud. Companies today can play a key role in protecting their customers and themselves by fending off agents of these Phishers and Pharmers; stepping up site security and making it more difficult for them to use their ill-gotten information.

Counter online crime by integrating a live telephone verification service that communicates directly with the person interacting with your site. During a transaction, after (s)he enters his/her phone number into your Web form, the service calls or texts back with a Personalized Identification Number (PIN) that (s)he must then enter into the form before continuing on. This checks to see if the phone number is working and correct. At this point, fraudsters generally fall out. They thrive on impersonating others and doing things that can’t be traced, so, most likely, their input phone numbers will be fake and they won’t be able to complete their transactions.

Take extra measures. To guard against those that try to trick the system by using others’ phones, Service Objects’ DOTS Telephone Verification goes even further by building in optional operations you can use to identify the caller or validate the information your contact types in.

Customize your security system. You can deploy one or several operations depending on the conditions you set. For example, if you know that there is a high rate of fraud coming from a particular region, you can flag calls coming in from that region, and before delivering a PIN, without delay, check the input phone number against the listed name associated with it. You might also decide to check the contact’s geographical location or other information, such as address listing, to verify that the person placing the call is who (s)he says (s)he is.

If a phone number doesn’t match up to the person interacting with your site, set a condition and create another step in your verification process requesting further information. If the contact is truly a customer, then compliance should be no problem; but if (s)he is up to no good, this is probably where (s)he will abandon his or her mission.

CONCLUSION:

As long as the Internet exists and people continue to do business online, Phishers and Pharmers are not going away. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Internet users are duped every day. You can help protect your customers and your company by thwarting these fraudsters’ attempts to use the information they harvest from unwitting consumers.

Step up the security on your site by verifying phone numbers with a live telephone verification service that not only communicates directly with each person that interacts with your site, but also has the capacity to validate that his or her information is correct.

Verify and validate: a powerful combination that helps keep your online customers and business secure.


For more information about DOTS Telephone Verification, please visit: //www.serviceobjects.com/products/phone/telephone-verification


1 Excerpt from Computerworld, http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/62002/Security_Statistics_

2 Phishing is a method of “baiting” users to give up personal information by sending out legitimate looking emails that contain links that go to fake sites designed to look equally as legitimate as the emails. Phishers are impersonators claiming to be legitimate companies (banks, popular shopping sites, etc.) in order to scam users into giving up private account information. Phishing, in a way, is similar to fishing with a net. Phishers throw their “nets” out, bait users to enter, and eventually drag in an adequate percentage of victims.

3 Pharming is more insidious in that it doesn’t just rely on bait to gather and harvest users’ personal information; even the most Internet savvy user may unwittingly become a victim. Pharmers operate by re-directing Internet users to bogus Web sites— even if they type into their browsers the exact address of their banks or other online services. So basically, someone believing that (s)he is interacting with his/her bank is actually providing the pharmer with his/her bank information, social security number and/or other private information that can be used to perpetrate a bevy of offline as well as online criminal activities.

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