Carrier Spam Filters Catching COVID-19 Emergency Messages– Can it be Stopped?

As covered extensively last year, the FCC recently empowered carries to auto-enroll folks in spam filtering tools using “reasonable analytics” to block calls the carriers believe will be unwanted by users of their networks.

While carrier-level default call blocking creates a number of problems for legitimate callers that see their calls unwittingly blocked, the damage is usually limited to consumers not receiving information they wanted and expected.Its unfortunate but–maybe–necessary collateral damage in the battle against robocalls.

But what about when the calls being blocked are true emergency calls–like those from hospitals or governments pertaining to Covid-19? And, as Jason just posted, industry groups are now looking to expand the coverage of Covid-19 emergency message exemptions–and those efforts are likely to meet with success IMO.

But all the exemptions in the world won’t help if the carrier’s blocking analytics aren’t throttled back to allow high volume calls in this emergency-laden world.

Enter my pal Rebekah Johnson.


Rebekah Johnson (Presumably working from home.)

I’ve always thought of her as a visionary, and she continues to prove me right (I love it when people do that.) Her company Numeracle is creating a clearinghouse system so that carriers known legitimate emergency calls when they see them. Although I never promote any product, service, or company on, this latest effort of hers seems timely and poignant and I would be remiss if I did not share it with TCPAWorld readers. Below is Numeracle’s press release on the subject:


ARLINGTON, Va., March 25, 2020 – Numeracle™, the pioneer of robocall blocking and labeling visibility in the calling ecosystem, today announced the launch of a Critical Calls Registry to support the initiatives set forward by the FCC in the COVID-19 TCPA Declaratory Ruling issued March 20, 2020. By utilizing Numeracle’s defined process to vet and verify critical callers, communications solution providers and organizations can ensure COVID-19 emergency calls are not mislabeled as FRAUD or SCAM, or blocked at the carrier level.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC Declaratory Ruling (In the Matter of Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, CG Docket No. 02-278) identifies, “efforts to slow the spread of the disease depend in part on effective communications with the American public about measures such as social distancing that can mitigate transmission of the illness, as well as other health and safety information that could save lives.”

As such, exceptions to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) have been enacted, deeming COVID-19 communications “emergency calls,” thus waiving requirements of prior express consent in some cases. The Ruling further declares,“[under the TCPA] hospitals, health care providers, state and local health officials, and other government officials may lawfully communicate information about the novel coronavirus as well as mitigation measures without violating federal law.”

The biggest challenge in determining emergency vs. non-emergency calls under this statute, however, is the credentialing of callers and critical call intent. The FCC states, “in determining whether a call relating to the COVID-19 pandemic qualifies as a call made for an emergency purpose, we look to the identity of the caller and content of the call.”

To aid industry and government in these efforts, Numeracle has launched a Critical Calls Registry available to any organization or solution provider facilitating the delivery of COVID-19 communications meeting the “emergency call” criteria defined by the FCC. This Registry, an extension of Numeracle’s existing enterprise vetting, verification, and phone number registration solution, will expand to include a COVID-19 emergency call category used to identify and protect emergency calls across the carrier, analytics, and app ecosystem.

“The need to communicate during these unprecedented times will likely create an increase in outbound traffic and call patterns the call blocking and labeling analytics have never seen before,” said Rebekah Johnson, founder & CEO, Numeracle. “To prevent the improper blocking labeling of critical calls, we expect the carriers to honor the verified status of emergency calls and deliver these calls uninterrupted during this crisis.” 

“We understand the challenges and urgency the industry is facing with COVID-19,” Johnson adds, “and we’re committed to preserving the ability to communicate time-sensitive medical and public safety information about the novel coronavirus now, more than ever.”

If you are a hospital, health care provider, state or local health official, other government official, or a solution provider delivering emergency communications on any of these entities’ behalves, visit to start the process of critical caller vetting and verification.

We’ll likely have Rebekah back on Unprecedented to discuss these efforts. More to come.


Leave a Reply