We've all had it happen. The phone rings, the number looks real or local, we answer, and it's spam. This is called call spoofing, or call masking, and is when the phone number that displays on your phone is not the actual phone number of the person calling you. It has grown exponentially with the advancement of call spoofing technology, and while it's mostly associated with spam, other businesses, like Uber and Lyft, use it too.
Recently, the FCC and Senate have started taking action against the uptake in robocalling with the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act. It’s a bipartisan bill to combat robocalls that mandates that all telephone carriers implement standards, known as SHAKEN/STIR, in coming years to limit call spoofing. This is expected to change the robocalling industry radically and will implement new standards for businesses of all kinds, especially those who use local numbers.
There are not enough words to describe the way this bill will change things. While the goal of the law is to protect consumers from spam, that’s not all that it will be doing. Numerous companies use call spoofing and local phone numbers for their business. For example, Uber masks the numbers of both employees and clients to protect the personal information and identity of both users. Domestic Violence Shelters and medical professionals are just a few others that professionally use call masking.
But those aren’t the businesses that will be drastically affected—it’s the small businesses. Most small businesses use their personal mobile phones for their business, making them the most likely to face the brunt of the backlash from this bill. If small business owners are unable to receive calls from local phone numbers that aren’t in their contacts or masked numbers, they might miss out on sales, client communication, and business opportunities. It could even go so far as to cause numerous small businesses to close their doors. Small businesses are going to pay the price, meaning we could lose out on those staple businesses in local communities.
Information is sparse on this topic, which is terrifying from a business owners’ perspective. Concerns have already been brought up about the fact that many legitimate businesses use call masking and local numbers for business purposes. Some of these concerns have been appeased by Senator John Thune, a supporter of the bill, who says he “believes the legislation gives the FCC appropriate discretion to permit such calls.” While this might not seem like much, there are a few other things you can do to prevent missing out on important calls.
Add Contacts to Your Phone Book
When doing business with another company or a vendor, make sure to add their phone number in your phone’s contacts. This will ensure that they can reach you, regardless of any spam-blocking technology or legislation.
Turn Off The Blocker
A lot of phones and apps are giving consumers the ability to block spam callers, but these can also block local phone numbers that aren’t already in your contacts. If you are using your mobile phone for your business, it’s good practice not to use these apps or settings to make sure that you receive calls from clients that might be using a local number.
The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act is going to drastically affect the way businesses communicate. While the overall goal of cracking down on spam calls is great, it’s potential to hurt small businesses is horrifying. Try the tips above and keep an eye out for more information on how your business can continue to communicate with others successfully.
Dani James is a Marketing Specialist and writer for Atwill Media. She has a bachelor's degree in Strategic Communications from Arkansas State University with focuses in Public Relations, Advertising, and Social Media Management.
When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading a good book, and watching The Office.