Why You’re Marked Scam Likely, and How to Fight Back [CHECKLIST]

Alan Saltz

May 14, 2024

6 min

Table of Contents


  • Understand the STIR/SHAKEN framework to authenticate call identities and avoid being marked as scam likely.
  • Recognize the impact of reputational analytics on your phone number's risk score and its visibility to consumers.
  • Implement strategies to lower the risk of being flagged, such as maintaining consistent call volume and call behavior.
  • Partner with services like PhoneBurner to better navigate compliance with regulations and improve the quality of your outbound calls.
  • Stay informed and adapt to the evolving telecommunications landscape to protect your business's reputation and consumer trust.

People receive calls every week, sometimes every day, with a big scam likely flag in the caller ID section of their phones. It’s a warning sign that screams: “Send me straight to voicemail.” 

Nobody picks these calls up. 

These scam likely flags are part of our world now thanks to the spammers, spoofers, fraudsters, and robocalls trying to take advantage of innocent people. And there’s been a strong push by the FCC, the three major phone carriers, and third-party technologies to thwart their efforts. 

However, in this effort to combat the onslaught of spam calls, legitimate businesses, just like yours, are getting caught in the crossfire and being mislabeled as scam likely. That’s not what anyone, especially those who rely on outbound calls for honest business communications, want. 

Our team has been actively studying, learning, and researching the dynamic factors that influence number reputation. Our goal is to help you reduce your risk of being labeled scam likely, and bring trust back to your call campaigns. And the good news is that we’ve put together a pretty robust plan of attack for you. 

Below, we’ll share the most up-to-date information around reputation analytics, spam labels, and STIR/SHAKEN, so you can get back to having high-quality conversations with your contacts.

Understanding the Scope of STIR/SHAKEN

Scam calls have significantly eroded the trust between caller and consumer to the point where reputable businesses are getting hurt. Our own sales team at PhoneBurner has even been marked scam likely at times, and we discuss this topic on anywhere from 60% to 90% of our calls with prospects who are looking for help in getting their calls answered.

This is a massive issue, it costs the public (and businesses) a lot of money, and it’s not unique to the United States. Check out some of the statistics from our infographic for more:

Statistics about calls marked scam likely in America, how much they cost, and how many robocalls are made each day.

The FCC implemented STIR/SHAKEN on June 30, 2021 to help combat scammers and number spoofing and restore lost trust in phone communications. And in a lot of ways that worked—more on that, in just a second.

But many believed that STIR/SHAKEN, on its own, would ensure that a legitimate business making outbound calls would not be labeled spam or scam likely. And that, unfortunately, is not the case.

That’s because it only verifies your business’ identity and your authorization to use the phone number being displayed on a call recipient's phone. 

In order to convey the authenticity of the identity of your number, STIR/SHAKEN can display a verification indicator on the device called. For example, iPhone users will notice a checkmark box next to verified contacts in their device:

A phone number with a verified check mark next to the number that didn't show up as scam likely. The check mark indicates it's from a caller authorized to use that number.

Even if you don’t personally recognize the number that’s calling you, this verification icon means the number calling you is from a source who is authorized to use that number. If it’s a scammer or spoofer, they won’t have this indicator, and yes, the calls are far more likely to be flagged as spam. 

The verification and validation of the source and identity of a call is definitely a good thing, but it is only one factor (albeit an important one) that goes into whether a call is flagged as scam likely.

Why Does my Number Show Up as Scam Likely?

The question remains: why is my legitimate number being flagged as scam likely? 

The answer: reputational analytics. 

The major carriers have their own distinct algorithms that determine risk and reputation of your phone number. 

They analyze a wide variety of call analytics that produce an overall risk score for your number. The higher the risk score, the more likely your number will be flagged as scam likely on a recipient's phone. 

If it gets too high, your calls could even be blocked at the network level. For example, some of the factors that impact your risk score are: 

  • Inconsistent volume of calls from the same number
  • Cold starting numbers, where you go from zero calls to over 100 an hour
  • Short-duration calls, which are typically under five seconds
  • Triple calling 
  • Ignored calls sent straight to voicemail
  • Conversation lengths below a 15 second minimum threshold 
  • Call recipients manually flagging your number as spam

Remember: each of these factors is distinct from the ownership authentication provided by STIR/SHAKEN. Yet they are all important elements that go into a phone number’s reputational analytics, which are unique to each carrier’s algorithm. 

So, the important question here really isn’t: “Why are my calls being flagged scam likely?” 

What we should really ask is: “What else can I do to avoid being flagged scam likely?”

How to Reduce Scam Likely Flags [CHECKLIST]

The sheer number of variables used to determine risk factors on your number can be complex and overwhelming. Honestly, it’s a lot for anyone to stay on top of. 

To top it off, there’s no guaranteed way to ensure you’ll never be flagged. Don’t worry though—our best minds are on it.

We’ve put together a checklist of tactics and strategies that can help reduce the chances your numbers will be flagged in the first place. It takes into account the importance of reputational analytics and the relationship they have with the STIR/SHAKEN Caller ID Authentication framework. 

We've also outlined a separate blog post that details what tactics the scammers are using, what you should avoid, and specific strategies you can implement to improve live answer rates for your team.

Use this checklist to help establish visibility into the reputation of your phone numbers, protect your brand identity, and, most importantly, retain your consumer’s trust. Here’s a quick glance at what’s inside: 

  • Purchase Numbers from PhoneBurner
  • Secure A-Level Attestation for Your Numbers
  • Monitor Your Numbers 
  • Don’t Delete Numbers 
  • Replace Old Numbers Only When Necessary
  • Add Your Numbers to Free Caller Registry
  • Maintain Consistent Number Usage and Call Volume
  • Use Smart Calling Discipline
  • Don’t Ignore the Do Not Call List

Check out the full list for much more actionable information on how to accomplish these things and external resources to use to do it. 

Access the Full Checklist Now

Editor’s Note: This checklist will live in a Google Doc, which our team will constantly update with the latest research and best practices as the industry changes. That way, you can focus on what matters most: your business.

Learn the Game, Improve Your Odds

As you go, remember that there’s no exact formula or foolproof solution that can guarantee you’ll never be marked spam or flagged scam likely. But there are many steps you can take to reduce the chances you’ll be flagged. 

First and foremost, make sure you clearly understand the relationship between the FCC STIR/SHAKEN regulation and the reputational analytics that assess your number’s risk score. Second, make sure you’re partnering with a power dialing software, like PhoneBurner, who stays up to date on all the latest surrounding scam likely and spam flags.

As you move forward, keep testing and experimenting with your calling strategy. Ensure you’re using data to inform smart decisions on what practices best serve your business. What works for one doesn’t work for all—every business has unique needs and goals. 

Once you understand how the game is played, you can improve the chance your numbers will have correct caller ID associated with them, show up as verified, and not get flagged in the first place. 

Our goal is to help you have more, high-quality connections with your contacts, and we will be always be your ally in that endeavor. We’ll keep you updated as we deepen our own knowledge in this ever-evolving space. Stay tuned for more. 

And, as a final note, I think it’s worth mentioning I received two scam likely calls while writing this article. No joke. 

Editor’s Note: This post is not legal advice. While we’re sharing what we know, you should always consult your own attorney with any legal questions you may have, including how your individual situation is impacted by the regulations and laws mentioned here.

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