What’s something we all get, don’t want, and can’t seem to completely get rid of. Spam phone calls of course!

Whether your phone rings and you’re met with a robot on the other end of the line, or you’re faced with a real-life person pretending to be something they are not, you’ve likely received your fair share of robocalls. In fact, spam calls grew by 108 percent from 2018 to 2019, and another 28 percent in 2020, reaching 61.4 billion, indicating no signs of slowing down and targeting victims.

While these calls might simply be a nuisance to some, for those in the deaf and hard of hearing community, they pose an extra threat. These calls aren’t just pranksters playing a harmless joke. The most popular spam calls often involve people sharing bank information, social security numbers, and account details – sensitive information that can be detrimental to a person’s financial and personal well-being. A hearing person might be able to easily identify that the voice on the other end of the phone call is a scam based simply on their tone. For those with hearing loss that rely heavily on phone call captions to help them communicate, they are unable to put a voice to the words they are reading on their phone screen, creating an extra layer of complicity to weeding out these scammers.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recognizes this threat and has taken advanced methods to target and eliminate unlawful robocalls. In 2019, Congress passed the TRACED Act, providing the FCC with additional tools to help combat these calls. The TRACED Act establishes safe harbors from liability for voice service providers that block unwanted calls identified by reasonable analytics or coming from the networks of “bad-actor” providers. It also establishes certain protections for legitimate callers and seeks comment on issues related to call blocking and TRACED Act implementation.

Even with measures in place, however, robocallers still find a way to break through, and the Coronavirus pandemic presented new ways for these scammers to take advantage of those most vulnerable by using topics like health insurance related inquiries, home sanitation services for virus prevention, fake COVID-19 cures or stimulus check inquiries as their method for gathering personal information.

As a service dedicated to helping those with hearing loss better communicate via phone calls, InnoCaption uniquely provides both stenographers and automated speech recognition (ASR) technology options for our users to choose how they receive their real-time phone call captions.

To help further mitigate scammers from taking advantage of our deaf and hard of hearing users, and in following with guidance from the FCC, InnoCaption is also proud to announce the roll out of our newest feature to filter out unlawful or suspicious phone calls. Here’s how it works: for phone calls that are highly likely to be spam or fraud, calls will automatically be blocked by our servers and users will not see them come through, preventing the user from ever having to even determine if that call is risky or not. For other calls that are deemed to be possible spam calls (i.e. medium/low risk), users will still receive the phone call but will now see a “Potential Spam” notice for these incoming calls. This allows our users to put their guard up when answering the call, while still ensuring that we aren’t filtering out any calls that could potentially be legitimate.

The leaders of InnoCaption are on an endless mission to further develop our platform and technology to best serve our users and keep those most vulnerable safe from harmful actors. Be sure to visit our website to learn more about us and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to get the latest updates from our team.