New Caller ID identifies that number you don’t recognize

Congress and the FCC are working on ways to rein in rampant robocalling, but we’re getting good at ghosting those unknown calls in the meantime.

While you may be good at ignoring calls from numbers you don’t recognize, there’s a flip side. The behavior is hurting legitimate businesses.

To fight this, wireless carriers rolled out a new option called Business ID, created by a Reston, Virginia-based company called Transaction Network Services.

TNS technology allows wireless carriers to offer businesses a chance to display their logo so that you might answer the call, even if it’s coming from a number you don’t recognize.

Research found we will ghost a call the majority of the time if the caller ID number is unfamiliar, but with just a little more information, we are more likely to pick up.

“With Business ID, our study shows that answer rates tend to be between 50 to 70 percent,” Mike Schinnerer, vice president of product management at caller ID solutions company Cequint, owned by TNS, told WTOP.

Business ID can also go one step further, letting businesses include “intent,” or the purpose of the call.

“An intent might be an appointment reminder. An intent might be that you have a delivery soon. Or it might be that you have a pickup for a prescription,” Schinnerer said.

While businesses have the option to add intent-of-call information, for privacy reasons, personal information, such as credit card numbers for a fraud alert, prescription types or reason for an appointment from a physicians office will not be displayed.

TNS said several Tier 1 U.S. carriers are already testing the feature, and it will be available to approximately one-third of all mobile subscribers this year. Some wireless subscribers may have already started seeing Business ID caller information.

“As robocalls become a growing threat to the subscriber experience, the Business ID feature represents a critical evolution in caller identification — not only by helping businesses with legitimate calling campaigns to succeed and grow their businesses, but also enabling carriers to restore trust to voice calling,” TNS chief product officer Bill Versen said.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to authorize phone carriers to identify and block robocalls by using technology that detects large numbers of calls or calls of brief duration from specific numbers.

It is voluntary and carriers could charge subscribers fees for the blocking service.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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