NobelBiz is a specialized provider of telecommunications and technology solutions to the contact center industry. Our clients comprise leaders of the marketing and contact industry that employ thousands of Americans and handle millions of customer interactions each month. For our clients, legal compliance is of paramount importance.

Unfortunately, recent changes in the contact industry’s infrastructure have led some less fastidious participants in the industry to use illegal robotic callers, which negatively affect contacted consumers and give the entire industry a bad name.

Traditional law-enforcement techniques have proven unsuccessful in curbing the proliferation of robotic callers, which typically cannot be caught without using a system to evaluate calls in real-time, as they happen. To date, no practical system for this purpose exists.

To address this problem, and to raise the standards of the contact industry to those its clients emulate, NobelBiz presents DragonNet.

A product of NobelBiz’s singular skills and resources, the DragonNet system is a unique combination of five distinct services. DragonNet is designed to find and capture illegal robotic callers in real-time and deliver enough evidence to the Federal Trade Commission, facilitating quick and thorough action against the perpetrators.

DragonNet is comprised of several elements:

Telephone Honey Pot - While not unique, the telephone honey pot is the entry point used to trap illegal robotic calls in real-time. The honey pot comprises a minimum of 5,000 telephone numbers drawn from various networks (cellular, wireline, VoIP, etc.). Because of the very low rate of conversion of these calls, the perpetrators need to make millions of calls in order to generate any significant revenue. The scale at which these calls are made makes even a small subset of numbers likely to be called during any given campaign.

Oftentimes, illegal robotic callers will literally dial every number combination possible during a campaign. However, in order to increase the likelihood that DragonNet’s numbers will be called, we would also disperse the numbers onto the web and into areas where illegal robotic callers are known to seek leads.

Randomized Automated Answering - Once the call reaches the telephone honey pot, the system needs to capture the robotic caller’s message. Typically, a robotic caller, simply looking for energy on the line, waits only for answer signaling before playing its message. Once a detection system such as DragonNet is deployed, however, robotic callers will quickly learn to screen answers they receive for characteristics common to honey pot lines and avoid leaving messages when they receive such answers, thereby evading detection.

In anticipation of this response, DragonNet offers built-in countermeasures, including a random answering algorithm that will make it almost impossible for the illegal robotic callers to detect a honey pot line.

Automated Message Detection - Once the caller begins to leave its message, DragonNet will analyze the signal to determine whether the caller is a human or robotic. DragonNet incorporates three different techniques for message detection:

First, DragonNet analyzes messages for KEYWORDS and phrases, automatically matching them to identical messages already logged in our system. Similar measures have been proven effective in email spam filters. The database of keywords can be updated in real-time and is helpful in quickly identifying potential violators.

Second, DragonNet employs a WAVFORM-match algorithm to identify digital sound patterns, and create positive matches. This is similar to the popular applications used to identify pieces of music. DragonNet records all audio received on calls. If a subsequent call has the same or a similar audio pattern, it will be flagged as a recoded message.

Third, DragonNet calculates and compares time cadences and durations from the caller’s audio outputs. This will be measured in conjunction with sounds being played from DragonNet’s side of the call. By analyzing whether and how the caller’s audio outputs demonstrate a reaction to DragonNet’s sounds, as well as the speed at which the cadence and pauses continue, DragonNet can determine whether a live person or an automated message is creating the audio outputs from the other side of the line.

It is important to note that at this point in the process it will not be clear whether a recorded message is being transmitted legally. The system is simply trapping calls and determining which of them are from humans, and which play automated messages. Once a call is flagged as an automated message, however, DragonNet will proceed to the next step in order to determine whether the caller is in fact violating the law.

Live Agent Disposition - Once a call is determined to be a robotic call, it will be transferred to a live agent. The agent will see what type of number the call is originating from (e.g. mobile vs wireline), information about that number itself (e.g. the state it purports to originate from), and other information about the originating number such as whether it is currently on the Do Not Call Registry.

Using these raw metrics, as well as the subject matter of the call, the agent will determine whether the call is an illegal robotic call rather than a legitimate call such as a political call or an emergency broadcast. If a call is found to be lawful, it will be flagged and added to a white list.

Once a robotic call’s message is on the white list the system will identify all future recordings that match that message and not transfer them to the agents. It is important to note that this system does not rely on caller ID since this is often modified by robotic callers. For example, an illegal robotic caller could use the caller ID of a political campaign- likely to appear on a white list- to thus evade detection if caller ID was the only standard of determination.

Real Time Evidence Capture - If a robotic call is determined to be illegal, the agent will proceed to follow the instructions of the message and will provide the illegal robotic caller with predetermined identifying information that will allow authorities to track down the perpetrators of the calls

It is critical to create a physical hook into the illegal robotic caller. Other information reported to authorities, including caller ID and even message recordings, typically has nothing tying it to the caller.

Evidence Dossier - In the end, DragonNet transfers to the FTC a file containing the information it gathers, as outlined below. Notably, DragonNet is designed to produce and transfer this file while the perpetrator is still engaged in the robotic calling campaign. DragonNet is a unique service in that it gives authorities the information they need to not only prosecute illegal robotic callers, but to catch them in the act of making illegal calls and shut down their operations before they are complete, mitigating the damage suffered by consumers.

The dossier that DragonNet sends to the FTC includes:

  1. The number of calls received from an illegal robotic call campaign.

  2. Recordings of the calls that DragonNet’s agents participated in.

  3. A written description of the specific tasks and transactions that each of DragonNet’s agents completed with the illegal robotic caller.

  4. The identification and credit card information used by DragonNet’s agents to complete the transactions.

This file constitutes the illegal robotic caller’s digital fingerprint, which is a wholly unique identifier that the FTC can use for further investigation and enforcement.

Compliance with FTC Criteria for Award

Does it work?

Based on its market experience and its deep knowledge of the nation’s telephone network, NobelBiz believes that its DragonNet solution offers the most feasible and expeditious way to shut down illegal robotic calling. The solution would be applicable to all phones and would allow the FTC to stop the problem directly at the source.

Additionally, once as the DragonNet system is in place, potential illegal robotic callers will no longer have the incentive to run such operations since the speed at which DragonNet identifies them and the severity of the penalties that the FTC can impose will render robotic calling operations unprofitable and entirely unattractive.

NobelBiz, employing its existing network and technology, currently runs and analyzes millions of calls. The DragonNet system is built using current technology that NobelBiz has deployed and operates everyday. While there are some costs associated with implementing DragonNet, such costs would be minimal and well within reason when balanced against the impact that the system would have on illegal robotic calling operations.

As described above, DragonNet’s active elements are designed to operate in a manner that illegal robotic callers will be unable to detect. Only the devastating results will alert robotic callers that they have been unearthed. Further, because DragonNet is a cloud-based solution, it can continually be changed and adapted in order to remain undetectable.

Is it Easy to Use?

Perhaps DragonNet’s biggest advantage is that consumers do not need to change the way they interact with the telephone network. While illegal robotic calls present a serious problem for consumers, the percentage of total calls in the US telephone network that they represent is miniscule.

DragonNet acts as a monitor on the network, allowing the FTC to shut down illegal robotic callers without affecting consumer behavior.

*It is important to note that DragonNet will not immediately eliminate all illegal robotic callers. The short term negative impact of some continuing illegal robotic calls, however, is outweighed by DragonNet’s primary benefit: it provides a solution that will quickly find and close the illegal robotic call practice without influencing consumers’ behavior.

How Soon Can it be Implemented?

DragonNet is ready to be implemented immediately and can roll out at anytime. The major pieces of the system’s technical infrastructure are already in place. Best of all, DragonNet would not require any changes in either the telecommunications infrastructure or consumer behavior. The estimated cost to run the system is between $10,000-$20,000 per month, depending on the size at which it is deployed.

NobelBiz believes strongly in keeping the nation’s telephone network open and accessible to all. Based on our expertise, we believe that DragonNet can stop illegal robotic callers without affecting the openness of the network or consumers' behavior in interacting with the network. We thank the FTC for addressing the issue of illegal robotic calling and we hope that DragonNet will be able to assist the Commission in its efforts against the practice.

DragonNet, by NobelBiz, Inc.

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