Posts Tagged ‘wireless data’

Phone Portability and What it Means for You

In the earliest days of the telephone, there was no such thing as a phone number: you simply purchased a separate phone and connection line to call each person you wanted to speak with. Later in the 19th century, switchboards and telephone networks ushered in the concept of a dedicated number.

Today, by comparison, there are an estimated 700-800 million phone numbers in use in the United States alone – more than two numbers for every man, woman and child living here. Roughly a third of these are mobile phones, and more than 99 percent of people age 18-29 use a personal cell phone. Perhaps most importantly, these numbers change frequently: over 100,000 wireless numbers alone are reassigned each and every day, and both business and personal numbers change frequently with things like moves, job changes and turnover.

So what does this mean for your telephone contact data? First, it means that the number you call today may have a different owner – or service provider – tomorrow. Second, it raises the serious issue of compliance risk. Both of these issues can have real financial consequences for your business.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the ways that phone portability can affect you – and more importantly, what you can do about it.

What kinds of portability are there?

There are many reasons why you need to validate your contact phone numbers, both at the time of data entry and at the time of use. Here are some of the major ones:

Device portability. This is where someone transfers their number to another type of telephone equipment, with the same or a different service provider – for example, transferring their home number from a landline to a mobile phone.

Why is device portability important? After all, doesn’t this number still belong to the same owner who opted in with you? It matters because in cases such as landline numbers being transferred to mobile phones, this may incur costs to the owner for things like incoming calls and text messages. Without fresh permissions, you are just a consumer complaint away from running afoul of the US Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), with stiff penalties for unwanted contact to mobile phones.

Service provider portability. Once upon a time, your phone number didn’t really belong to you: if you moved or changed service providers, you had to get a new one. In the US, this changed through Federal legislation that, as of 2003, allowed most consumers to take their phone numbers with them (with a few exceptions such as specific rural areas, or moving to another geographic region), and the same is true for many countries worldwide.

Why is service provider portability important? Because switching from one carrier to another may also result in increased costs for receiving marketing messages, again underscoring the importance of getting these clients to opt-in again before contacting them.

Reassignment to a new owner. Phone numbers aren’t like Social Security numbers – they can be reassigned to new people, and can have many different owners over time. People give up their old numbers for a variety of reasons: they move to a new state, drop their landline to save money, take over a mobile number from a family member, and more. Service providers typically “age” surrendered numbers for at least a 90-day period, and then release them for reassignment to new owners.

You clearly need to be aware of transfers such as these, and remove these numbers from your contact list. Unsolicited marketing to new owners of phone numbers is almost guaranteed to trigger consumer complaints and possible TCPA compliance actions.

How to protect yourself

There are clear risks nowadays from contacting phone numbers that may have been ported. Chief among them are the potential for compliance penalties from TCPA or other data privacy laws. Some well-known firms have been hit with multi-million dollar TCPA fines for making unwanted marketing contacts, with penalties in one case reaching nearly a billion US dollars – and worse, there is no longer an FCC “safe harbor” for making even one such call accidentally.

Beyond the obvious legal risks, unwanted telephone marketing contacts can also impact your brand reputation and customer image in the marketplace. We live in an era where consumers are less tolerant than ever about interruptive marketing, and having an engaged community of customers and prospects who want to hear from you has become an important competitive advantage.

Our DOTS GeoPhone Plus product is designed to protect you from all types of phone portability issues, as well as provide valuable data about your phone contacts. It combines real-time reverse lookup for over 400 million US and Canadian phone numbers with line type, contact information, porting status and dates, flagging of VoIP and prepaid phone numbers for fraud prevention, and more.

With API interfaces to major marketing automation and CRM platforms and industry-leading implementation support, GeoPhone Plus is a smart move for protecting your telephone marketing efforts. Want to learn more? Contact our friendly and knowledgeable technical team to discuss your own specific data quality needs – we’re here to help.

Note Codes in GeoPhone Plus

We recently published a blog that took a deep dive into our reverse-phone lookup service, DOTS GeoPhone Plus. That blog highlighted some of the ins, out and returns of our service, largely focusing on some of the returns in the provider and contact portions of the service.

To supplement that blog, we wanted to highlight the Note Codes and fields that the service can return and provide extra insights and information that can be derived from your data.

Below is an overview of these Note Codes and text descriptions, along with some insights from these pieces of information.

NoteCode NoteDescription Meaning
1 IsMailable Indicates that address in the Contact node can receive mail from the USPS. This can be helpful if you are trying to reach out to a contact through a physical mailing campaign. This address is typically more reliable to reach your contact if it is associated with a landline as opposed to a wireless or VOIP number.
2 IsConnected Indicates that the number is active and has an active subscriber associated. If you are trying to target leads who are most likely to respond, contacting numbers with this note code are far more likely to have someone on the other end of the number.
3 IsPorted The number in question has moved from one provider to another. This happens frequently with wireless numbers when subscribers switch carriers, but can also happen in switching a landline to a wireless number. If numbers have switched from a landline to a mobile number it can open up new avenues of communication towards clients like texting or utilizing the SMS or MMS address associated with a wireless number. If this field is present, it will be accompanied with a Date of Porting, which will indicate when the number was first ported.
4 IsWireless The number in question is a wireless number. As mentioned above, this opens up the avenue for SMS and MMS communications to the contact.
5 IsUnknownContact This code will let the user know that there was no contact information associated with the number. For these cases the service will still be able to return information in the provider node that the service returns.
6 IsUnknownProvider This is an older Note Code in the service and we don’t expect it to come up in a normal production scenario. We would generally consider numbers without provider information to be invalid, and as such the service will return an error for these cases.
7 IsTollFreeNumber This will come up for 800 numbers and other toll free numbers. If you are trying to target numbers where you have a higher chance of speaking to a person or business associated with the number then you might want to exclude these numbers from campaigns.
8 IsGoogleVoiceNumber Indicates that the given number is a Google Voice number. While there are a lot of legitimate Google Voice numbers, these can often be an avenue that fraudsters use, and many clients use this flag to avoid these numbers.
9 IsSkypeNumber As with Google Voice numbers, Skype numbers can also be used for fraudulent purposes more often than other phone numbers.
10 IsPossibleDisconnected This flag means that there is no registered subscriber associated with the phone number. This is generally a good sign that the phone number could be disconnected.
11 IsPortableVOIP The given phone number is registered to a phone carrier that provides phone number registration without a physical address. Some clients consider these numbers to more likely be associated with fraudulent purposes.
12 IsPossiblePortableVOIP As with the code above, this code also indicates that the given number may be registered with a carrier that allows for phone number registration without a physical address. Clients also generally consider these to be more likely associated with fraud.

Hopefully, the above notes and explanations for our GeoPhone Plus service will help you identify and target contacts in the most efficient way.

Each use case will be different, so if you have any questions about how to best leverage your reverse-phone lookup integration, please reach out to us! We are happy to help get you up and running with your implementation.

Text on blue background - Frequently Asked Questions

Reverse Phone Lookup APIs – Differences Between GeoPhone & GeoPhone Plus

A phone number is more than just a way to contact someone: with the proper tools, it can be a gateway to a rich set of information that can power your marketing, customer service, fraud prevention, or compliance efforts. We have two powerful products that let you choose the right level of capabilities – and costs – for making the most out of your telephone contact data assets.

Both of these products are based around reverse phone lookup: you give us a phone number and we will tell you everything we know about it. This blog explains the differences between these two products, together with some sample use cases.

Comparing your reverse phone lookup options

Our two products for reverse lookup and data verification for phone numbers are DOTS GeoPhone and DOTS GeoPhone Plus. Here is a quick summary of their capabilities:

  • GeoPhone is a low-cost, basic reverse lookup product that provides the carrier, line type and provider latitude/longitude information for a given phone number, along with contact information for non-wireless phones, using a continuously updated database with over 230 million residential numbers and 40 million business listings.
  • GeoPhone Plus adds a wealth of additional information about phone numbers from an expanded database of over 400 million US and Canadian numbers, including 170 million wireless numbers:
    • Contact information for all phone number types, including wireless numbers
    • Latitude and longitude information for contact addresses
    • SIC business categorization for business numbers
    • SMS/MMS address information for wireless numbers
    • Whether a number has been ported, including date ported

The basic GeoPhone product gives you the power to validate phone numbers and gain greater insight about your customers and prospects, while GeoPhone Plus adds deeper contact information, including mobile data, business intelligence and compliance data from an expanded data set. Let’s look at how you can put each of these products to use.

Sample use cases

Some of the applications for our basic GeoPhone capabilities include:

Validation. Verify landline and business numbers for legitimacy and accuracy.

Geotargeting. Use provider latitude and longitude data to learn more about where your customers and prospects may be located.

Market segmentation. Create custom business logic for residential, business or government phone numbers.

Basic GeoPhone is often a cost-effective choice for doing contact data validation with businesses, which still largely use either landline or voice over IP (VoIP) numbers.

GeoPhone Plus adds the data you need for important applications such as:

Fraud prevention. Check phone numbers against other order data, and flag the possible use of fraudulent or “burner” phone numbers from orders using stolen credit data.

TCPA compliance. The expanded wireless number information from GeoPhone Plus, including porting dates and information, let you know if your phone contacts have changed hands or been ported to wireless phones – helping you avoid potentially strict penalties for marketing to wireless phones under the US Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Gathering expanded contact information. Get full contact information from your wireless, landline and VoIP phone data, allowing you to validate these numbers against your existing contact database. SMS and MMS gateway information also gives you the ability to port email contacts to text messages on wireless phones.

Improved market targeting. SIC code and geolocation data give you the ability to more finely tune your telephone-based marketing efforts to the right kinds of businesses.

Pro tip: GeoPhone Plus also gives the ability to control your costs by choosing the level of output data it returns, ranging from Basic level with landline, toll-free and carrier data to the Full level including all wireless and contact data. Our extensive developer guide can give you more specific details.

Try our reverse phone lookup products for free

It is very easy to discover the power of GeoPhone and GeoPhone Plus for your own business applications. Our product web pages linked above let you try these capabilities live with sample numbers, and see for yourself what kinds of outputs they return. And for a deeper dive, you can request a free trial key good for 500 of your own transactions – which lets you implement and test these capabilities on our nickel.

Have more questions? Our friendly technical staff are ready to assist you any time. Let us help you explore how to get the most out of your telephone contact data assets.