Phone Spam and Scams Part 2: Deeper Experience Protects Our Customer Base

Last week, I outlined the hard dollar business impacts of phone spam. This week, I’ll continue to tell you how Whitepages Pro fits into the conversation on spam. We talk to customers and analysts about the problem of phone spam on a routine basis, partly because of our long history in this area, which I’ll outline here now.

Mr. Number and Whitepages Caller ID

Whitepages has been in the phone spam business for four years, led by our Mr. Number phone spam app. Mr. Number has a long history and is a well-known brand for consumer protection. We followed Mr. Number with our market-leading Whitepages Caller ID app, which incorporates much of the Mr. Number learnings, but also protects consumers from unwanted calls and identifies unknown numbers. It does so by the same API calls that Pro provides to our customers.

This history and experience places our Phone Reputation team in the unique position of having two generations of spam products under their collective belt. As a result, they are further up the learning curve in this market than any team on the globe.

Breadth of signals matters in phone spam detection

With millions of active users across the Mr. Number and Whitepages Caller ID mobile apps, our backend infrastructure at Whitepages is tracking 3-5 billion calls per month to constantly protect our consumers from unwanted calls. Across all of these signals, if a robo-dialer spins up with a block of non-fixed VoIP numbers at a hundred call-per-minute pace, our Phone Reputation service will see it in under a minute. No product on the market has that level of visibility coupled with the 3rd generation algorithms we now deploy to nearly immediately flag a spam number.

Phone spam protection is not about velocity

When you evaluate spam products to protect your business’s revenue lines, the amateurs and first generation products will be almost solely based on the call velocity of a given number. We, on the other hand, always encourage due diligence and testing from our customers. What you will quickly find if you test with other vendors is that many of their high spam numbers are actually legitimate businesses. We call this the “false positive problem.” You may also quickly see another challenge – their product score update is painfully behind in reaction time – adding numbers by day or week.

The false positive problem becomes very troublesome when your company starts consistently taking action on calls that originate, let’s say, from a hospital or insurance claims desk. By comparison, our Phone Reputation algorithms evaluate 35 different call and SMS attributes with nearly 20 unique rules. We couldn’t possibly do this without Mr. Number and Whitepages Caller ID and the billion of signals per month that they provide.

What’s that mean to our B2B customers at Whitepages Pro? We keep it simple. When our Spam Index indicates a number is not spam (that’s returned as a one via the Pro API), it’s a whitelisted number – a legitimate business or consumer – and you can take it to the bank. When our API says “spam” (a four), please take action, because we’re saying that with a 97% accuracy rate.

As for reaction time, strap in, because our 3rd generation Phone Reputation service is recalculating spam scores within 10 seconds.

In my last post in this series next week, I’ll go into some eye-popping details about our 3rd generation Phone Reputation Service. And oh yeah, I’ll mention our growing international coverage currently taking place in our phone spam coverage for Brazil, Mexico, and Canada!

Stay tuned,

Read the rest of Rob’s series about Phone Spam and Scams. Part 1 and Part 3

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