Eliminating Robocalls

In the last edition of our InsideLine, we wrote about receiving unsolicited phone calls from companies or people you do not know. Since the June edition, we have seen an increase of another type of nuisance/malicious call, the robocall.

What is a robocall? If you have answered the phone only to hear a recorded message instead of a live person, then you have gotten a robocall. With the rise of robocalls, we have received a number of inquiries from our members wanting to know if there is anything that can be done about them.

The good news is that Pioneer has two features that can help people, Robocall Blocking is a free feature and Privacy Defender is a paid feature that costs $2.50 per month. Bear in mind that neither product works 100% of the time, as there are ways for a caller or computer to get around each feature, but they do provide some relief.

We would have liked to put the free Robocall Blocking on everyone’s line last year when we rolled out the feature, however, FCC regulations do not allow us to. Therefore, if you would like to have free Robocall Blocking, you will need to contact us and we will be happy to put the feature on your line. Privacy Defender is a stronger blocking tool, as it actually screens every incoming call except calls from telephone numbers you have previously placed on a permitted call list. Some people though may view this feature as a hassle for their callers, as callers are required to listen to a message and press the number 8 to allow their call to go through.

Below is a brief description of each feature:

Robocall Blocking
Help prevent unwanted robocalls from reaching a member’s phone. Robocall Blocking uses highly intelligent algorithms to determine what calls to block. In particular, it is carefully designed not to block calls from high volume callers that you still need to receive, such as mass announcements from schools to announce snow closures or from hospitals to confirm appointments. If a call is rejected, a short rejection announcement is played to the caller, “We’re sorry, the party you have dialed is not accepting calls at this time.” If the member has voicemail, the caller will then be sent to voicemail. This is a precaution in the unlikely event a genuine caller has been misidentified as unwanted. The caller will have the opportunity to leave a message. In a typical case of an automated robocall, no message will be left.

Privacy Defender
Allows members to screen and reject unwanted calls from telemarketers and anonymous numbers (callers who have withheld their number so that the called party cannot tell who is calling). The feature can screen calls in two ways by using two distinct methods within the feature:

Telemarketer Call Screening – requires a caller to explicitly confirm they are not a telemarketer before their call is put through. Telemarketer is automatically turned on when the feature is added to an account. Calls from numbers that you want to bypass call screening can be placed on a permitted numbers list. These calls will be put through directly without prompting the caller to confirm they are not a telemarketer. Additionally, if a call passes through telemarketer call screening, the calling number is automatically added to the permitted numbers list.

Anonymous Call Screening – requires a caller who withholds their number to record their name so the customer can choose whether to accept the call. A member can give known callers (for example, family or friends) a bypass code that they can use to have their calls put through directly. This feature needs to be activated by the customer using a telephone.

While each of these products provide good levels of protection, they are not designed to work together…you decide which product will work best for your needs.

More information on these features can be found on our website at: