This article previously appeared on the LiveVox blog and is republished here with permission.

Over the last few months the apparent acceleration in adoption of blacklist services and applications has caught the attention of contact center leaders. The concern over blacklists is understandable since a blacklisted number could make it more complicated to reach a customer. This, in combination with the fluid regulatory environment spanning the TCPA, CFPB, and FTC, is compounding the challenge of cell phone outreach.

So, what do contact center leaders need to understand about blacklists? Are they having an actual impact? How do you manage your operations with them in the mix? As the saying goes – Knowledge is Power – so here are some key points about blacklists you should know, as well as tips on how to work with them in your contact centers.

The first question to ask is “What are the various types of blacklists?”

We’re going to quickly look at three types of blocking methods and blacklists:

  • The FTC ‘Do Not Call’ data list 
  • Mobile blocking services
  • Mobile phone blocking apps

1) The FTC ‘Do Not Call’ data list 

The Federal Trade Commission posts files on a daily basis (M-F) containing the phone numbers reported by consumers that have made an unwanted/SPAM call. The focus of the FTC Do Not Call (DNC) Reported Calls Data List is to provide carriers and developers with up-to-date data about phone numbers that have been reported by consumers as undesirable. This ‘blacklist’ data contains information including the phone number, time and date of the call, location of the consumer and the subject matter. The FTC reported call lists data can be found here: The FTC Do Not Call Data

2) Mobile phone blocking services

Blacklist Service Screenshot

The next level of blacklisting type is a carrier or third party provided service facilitating call blocking. These services can combine with an on-device application to leverage crowd-sourcing capabilities that generate “blacklists” shared with/by other users. They can provide notices on the incoming call screen with the caller’s information and the ability for the consumer to designate how to disposition the call.

Service carriers compile blacklists for these services through a number of sources including:

•  FTC managed blacklist data

•  Local phone contact list comparison

•  Basic CNAM database comparison

The mobile carriers may offer these blocking capabilities at no cost or for a monthly fee.

3) Mobile phone blocking apps

On device phone number blocking apps have been around for a while. These apps may not be nearly as impactful as the blocking services, but they still provide cell phone users with additional options to choose from. These applications use various methods to limit or block the calls the consumer receives. Some simply send any inbound call that is not tied to a specific contact in the consumer’s address book straight to voicemail. Others allow the user to designate specific numbers in their address books that should receive the ‘direct to voicemail’ treatment when such calls come in.  

The next, and perhaps more important, question to ask is: “How is this impacting contact center performance?”

To determine the potential impact of “blacklisting,” LiveVox analyzed our real-time contact center connection data across our clients. Knowing that Blacklist apps and services mainly send calls directly to voicemail, one would anticipate a notable decrease in connect rates.

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After extensive analysis comparing data over the past 18+ months, our data shows little, to no, reduction of connect rates across all of our clients, meaning the impact of the FTC list and blocking apps for our clients remains minimal. Other businesses not on LiveVox many have lower connect rates and be impacted by blacklists to a greater degree.

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insideARM Editor's note: The Innovation Council, a part of the Consumer Relations Consortium, holds its third meeting of the year this week. In conjunction with the primary topic of 'competing on data analytics,' we will engage in an in-depth discussion of the fast-moving robocall blocking and labeling initiative. Joining us will be executives from several of the analytics companies -- those firms developing the apps that can be downloaded directly by consumers, and developing the software that is used by major carriers.

While call blocking (as a result of so-called "blacklists") is part of the issue, call labeling may have bigger consequences for the ARM industry. There is a significant effort occurring among the full range of stakeholders in this process to find a way to accomplish what consumers want most -- to block the onslaught of scam calls -- while delivering calls made by legitimate businesses. Accurate labeling is a major part of this. From a consumer's perspective, accurate labeling of an incoming call would be extremely desirable. From the perspective of a 3rd party debt collector, this could be fraught with risk.

App developers will tell you that no one - or even two - factors, such as being on the FTC's list, will get you blocked. They each have their own alogorithm based on a series of inputs, and how any given number is characterized is fluid.

The Consumer Relations Consortium is engaged in this process, and insideARM will provide updates as they are available.

Prior meetings of the Innovation Council have addressed innovations in payments and omni-channel communications. Innovation Council dialogues put senior executives from larger collection agencies, creditors and leading technology firms together to share best practices and develop tomorrow's ideas. If you are interested in this type of engagement, send us a note.


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