We’ve all been there. You’re busy putting the groceries away or tending to your children when your cellphone rings. You stop what you’re doing and dig it out of your pocket. “I don’t recognize this number, what area code is this?” A voice in your head tells you not to pick it up, it’s a sales call, but maybe this is your doctor’s office new number. You do have an appointment coming up. “Hello?”….then silence. They got you, this isn’t your doctor. As you pull the phone away to hang up there is a click followed by , “Hello? Hello? Mr. Huntley this is…..” It doesn’t matter who it is, it’s a robocall from some poor marketer stuck in what you picture is a sweltering hot room barely lit by a single light bulb hung in the darkness. You hang up while he is mid-sentence telling you about your car’s warranty.
A 2012 study found that only 7% of Americans have a favorable view of telemarketers. So when Sen. John Thune [R-SD] put forward legislation seeking to punish robocalls and those who make them, in January of 2019, it was a rare moment of bipartisanship that followed. Ultimately in December of 2019, President Trump would sign into law, “Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act”. This piece of legislation known as the TRACED Act, makes it easier for consumers to identify spam callers. It also calls on all major carriers such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint to provide free of charge to their customers tools to mark and block these calls.
However, like so many pieces of legislation there is a major unwanted consequences. What happens if your number is improperly labeled as spam?
As an IT staffing firm we make around 1,000 outgoing phone calls per day and the problem is that the TRACED Act gives the consumer way too much power to mark calls as spam. Our employees can make a legitimate call to someone about a position and for whatever reason if that call doesn’t go well, the person receiving the call can open an app on their phone and mark our call as spam. At that point our number is added to a database and analyzed for factors such as call length and can be mistakenly labeled as robocall activity. Once your number is flagged all of your outgoing calls will show up with the caller ID of “Spam Likely” or something to that effect.
Recently the Computer Merchant has undertaken the vital task of staffing for COVID contact tracers. These Contact Tracers will have the vital position of tracking the COVID-19 infection in the North East. This project is of National importance for the safety, security and health of the American People. At times we have not been able to reach these employees due to our calls being labeled as “Spam” and the reluctance to answer such calls.
The process to have your number removed from this database has proven to be slow and inconsistent. There are three main vendors that maintain these databases. Each carrier uses a different vendor. You need to register online with each vendor. You need to register all of your outgoing lines. Then you wait and hope your number is removed.
The TRACED Act was born in good intentions. However, unwanted consequences of this Act have proven to be a business killer to those companies that make a large number of outgoing calls. Also, in the case of the Computer Merchants Contact Tracing program, the unwanted consequences of the Act are proving to be a danger to every American.
The Computer Merchant, Ltd. (TCM) was founded in 1980 by John Danieli, a U.S. Marine Corp Veteran, the Company provides national technology, engineering, professional and light industrial staffing and workforce services to Fortune-1000 companies and public sector agencies across the U.S. The Company has earned numerous awards including multiple Tech-Serve Alliance Excellence Awards; CRN Solution Provider 500 Award; VAR Business Lifetime Achievement Award; Unisys 9/11 Recovery Impact Award and EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
The Computer Merchant calls on all elected U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives, to revisit the TRACED Act and insure that the unintended consequences of this legislation is fixed. So U.S. businesses are not inadvertently crushed by the stray click of an app.