According to a press release last week, mobile phone app company Hiya has closed $18M in funding to help the company expand. While the company says it will use this new infusion of cash to grow internationally, what should be interesting about this to the U.S. debt collection industry is that Hiya is the company that provides AT&T, Samsung and others with “contextual” caller identification services for their customers.
Per the release,
Through established partnerships with AT&T, Samsung, T-Mobile, ZTE and proprietary apps for both Android and iOS, Hiya's global database of comprehensive Caller Profile information identifies legitimate numbers as well as blocks known spam or scam calls, enabling users to avoid falling victim to ever-increasing fraudulent activity.
The company refers to this information as “context,” which gives mobile users real time information about who is calling them.
Hiya is available as a consumer app on Google Android and iPhone and is integrated into the phone experience for AT&T Call Protect, T-Mobile Name ID, ZTE Axon 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note8, and all A-Series and J-Series users worldwide.
insideARM has been covering the developing story of how both carriers and companies like Hiya, First Orion, Nomorobo and others are causing unintended consequences for legitimate businesses (and consumers) like debt collectors. See these stories:
September 11, 2017 - The Gathering Avalanche: “Robocall” Blocking, and What Can be Done
September 19, 2017 - FCC Committee Meets About Unwanted "Robo" Calls; Makes More Recommendations
As an example, one concern associated with providing the name of a debt collector as context for who is calling is that this could cause a third party disclosure violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Whose responsibility would that be? The collection agency? The carrier? The phone manufacturer? The software provider?
Led by PACE (the Professional Association for Customer Engagement), a number of industry associations representing call centers have begun to work together to address this and other issues with the carriers and software providers. During its November meeting, the Consumer Relations Consortium will be meeting with Hiya and First Orion to better understand exactly how their applications do or do not block/tag calls, and to identify ways to avoid unintended consequences.
With nearly daily articles like this one about lawmakers who have made it a top priority to address the problem of illegal robocalls, it is likely there will be an increasing supply of money and attention paid to this issue. Industry needs to be on this moving train (or avalanche… insert your preferred analogy here).