Robocalls vs. Automated Voice Messages: What Gives?

Category - General
by Ann Holtzapple on September 30th, 2015

Answering the phone and hearing the familiar voice of a far-off friend is one of life’s great small pleasures. Conversely, a ring that turns out to be a prerecorded, unsolicited “robocall,” can be one of life’s greatest frustrations. Have you ever stopped to wonder what differentiates these nuisance calls from other types of automated notification systems? Let’s take a closer look at the difference between the two, as well as whether a future free of robocalls is within the realm of possibility.

The 411 on Robocalls

Consumer Reports defines robocalls as “auto­dialed or prerecorded telemarketing calls to landline home telephones or cell phones, or unsolicited text messages to wireless numbers.”  Just how rampant is the problem? One industry source claims that as many as four of all calls received by the average household are robocalls.

You’re hardly alone if a ringing phone has turned into a harbinger of dread: according to Consumer Reports, more than 150,000 consumers lodge official complaints every months about these intrusive and unwanted robocalls. In fact, more people now complain about robocalls than they do about their pesky predecessors, live telemarketers.

Even more troubling is the fact that robocalls can also be a gateway to telemarketing fraud which Consumer Reports estimates costs consumers approximately $350 million every year. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has exacerbated the problem by allowing robocallers to “spoof” different numbers to appear legitimate. Additionally, while the problem was largely limited to traditional land lines in the past, mobile phones are now also targets. What does this all mean for you? The problem is going to get worse before it gets better.

Is there anything you can do to stop these calls from coming in? Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission are on the case. The National Do Not Call Registry represents the first line of defense in limiting telemarketing nuisances. However, it’s only as effective as robocallers willingness to abide by it. And the truth is that the majority don’t bother due to a simple lack of incentivization. In the meantime, efforts to advance call-blocking technologies are underway, but until widespread acceptance by telephone carriers, consumers must make due with plug-in call-blocking devices and apps.

The Anti-Robocalls: Automated Message Systems

While robocalls are, by nature, unwanted and unsolicited, automated message systems are their converse. Delivered to a targeted group of recipients in need of specific information, automated voice broadcasting saves organizations time and money by automating the messaging process.

While robocalls qualify as spam, automated voice messaging services offer a communication service. From sending appointment confirmations and reminders to informing individuals of service changes to collecting customer feedback to school closings and traffic announcements, automated message services represent an efficient, effective way to relay information between organizations and their constituents. Automated message services can also play a very important role during times of emergency when information needs to be conveyed quickly and with certainty.

Because of their inherent value, it makes sense that automated message system calls are immune from the National Do Not Call Registry. This is terrific news for consumers attempting to stop robocalls who still wish to receive automated messages. It’s also great news for organizations looking for a time-saving messaging solution.

Ultimately, while robocalls are nothing more than a headache, automated message systems offer a solution to today’s ongoing messaging challenges. And while robocalls will hopefully some day go the way of email spam, automated message systems are uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between people and the information they need to live safer and more productive lives.



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