Lead or Litigant?
When contacted by a lead vendor, both legitimate prospects and TCPA litigants will express interest in the offer and agree to be transferred, but of course, they do so for entirely different reasons. Legitimate prospects do so because they are genuinely interested in the offer, while litigants are only interested in identifying a potential defendant for a TCPA lawsuit. Some litigants will even go so far as to place an order for this same purpose.
Alliance members that only call their own data and diligently scrub against our litigant feeds are unlikely to encounter TCPA litigants, but for those who purchase transfers from third-party lead aggregators and other vendors, it is a different story. While many of these entities are fully compliant in their dialing practices, others are not, and many of those do nothing to avoid contacting TCPA litigants and often disregard the National DNC Registry.
Even so, a rogue lead vendor who contacts a known litigant at a blacklisted number will still be unable to transfer the call to an Alliance member, as long as their dialing system is programmed to block such transfers. Unfortunately, some of the savvier litigants have begun to notice these blocked transfer attempts and have come up with a new tactic that can circumvent the protection offered by our Litigation Firewall that we’ve dubbed the “Clean Number Callback Request.” Here’s how it works:
Circumventing the Litigation Firewall
A lead vendor agent calls the blacklisted number of a known litigant, who feigns interest in the offer and agrees to be transferred. The transfer is blocked. If the call disconnects, the agent calls back and attempts to transfer the litigant again with the same result. After a few attempts, the litigant instructs the agent to try calling them at another number, which is often a throwaway VoIP line that may not be in our feeds. Some active litigants have obtained dozens of numbers for this very purpose, so if the attempt to transfer a callback to a new number is blocked, they will instruct the agent to call them back again at a different number until the transfer is finally successful.
After a brief conversation, the litigant has enough information to identify the lead buyer, who shortly thereafter receives a demand letter or a lawsuit summons for a call they never wanted and actively sought to avoid. To make matters worse, litigants will often count each callback placed after a failed transfer attempt as a separate unsolicited call, resulting in a vastly inflated damages claim. The following excerpt is from an actual demand letter sent by an attorney whose client employed this very tactic:
However, when the lead generator attempted to transfer my client, the calls would fail. After these failed telephone transfers occurred several times, my client asked the lead generator for more details and was told that his telephone number was “blocked” by the “agent” so my client could not identify the source of these unsolicited telemarketing calls. This forced my client to request the lead generator to call him back on his home telephone number, after which the call was successfully transferred to your company…
If the call was placed by an anonymous, judgment-proof offshore lead vendor, the unlucky lead buyer is left with few good options other than to write a hefty settlement check for a series of calls that never should have been made, much less transferred.
How to Thwart the Clean Number Callback Request
Fortunately, this Clean Number Callback Request is relatively easy to thwart with some clear instructions and proper agent training.
Use Reputable Lead Vendors: First, you should only accept transfers from reputable, compliant vendors that take the necessary steps to protect their customers. Don’t take their word for it- ask for proof.
Instruct Lead Vendors to Abandon a Lead if a Transfer is Blocked: Next, be certain to clearly instruct all lead vendors to abandon the lead by politely disconnecting the call if an attempted transfer is blocked. If an unsuccessful transfer attempt results in the call being disconnected, the agent should never call the same number back.
Never Call Back to a Different Number: If for some reason an agent refuses to abandon a lead after a few blocked transfers, they should never, EVER agree to call the lead back at another number.
After one or two failed transfers, the odds of someone being a legitimate prospect are vanishingly remote. No matter how enticing your offer may be, no legitimate prospect is willing to jump through that many hoops to find out more about it.