Pay Per Call Affiliate Blackhat… ‘Rotating CallerID Tactic’

As a pay per call affiliate manager, this is one of the blackhat techniques I’ve learned to watch out for. I call it the ‘Rotating CallerID Tactic’.

Here’s how it works…

Those of the pay per call blackhat world would love to be able to get on the phone and make call after call to their advertisers, getting paid $5 or $10 for every call they make. Hey, at ten bucks per call, they see themselves making $60.00 or $100.00 per hour simply by making phone calls. So you can completely understand why they would be tempted!

The catch is, most advertisers stipulate that they will only pay for ‘unique callers’.

A unique caller, in the advertiser’s mind, is defined as a different person. So how does an advertiser prevent over-sharp affiliates from making multiple calls? In practice, their filter is usually callerID.

Since CallerID is the most obvious filter by which ‘unique callers’ are identified, pay per call blackhat affiliates have spent their valuable time figuring out ways to rotate the callerID that is sent through to their advertisers. Their logic is that the advertiser will simply count the unique callerID numbers and then make the payout.

If the pay per call affiliate manager is not paying attention, those calls can easily leak through. They will be worthless to the advertiser, yet on paper they will be booked as qualifying calls.

As a pay per call affiliate manager, I would have been none-the-wiser if I hadn’t started listening to call recordings. To my surprise, I discovered that the recorded voice of some of the callers sounded nearly identical!

I guess if you are smart enough to figure out how to rotate callerIds, then you can’t be completely dumb, right? Nevertheless, sometimes the pay per call blackhatter is not even bright enough to use a different name when they call. So not only do we have voice prints that match, we even have names! It turns out ‘spoofing’ your callerID is simpler than it sounds, so you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to pull this one off. There are numerous spoofing services out there that will take care of it for even the dumbest of dumb dumbs.

Since then, our compliance team has developed other methods to uncover this obvious sham and it rarely goes undetected. Of course, we can’t be sure, since non-detection means we don’t know about it if it exists.

More sophisticated pay per call affiliates have setup even more elaborate methods of utilizing the Rotating CallerID Tactic, and we’ll touch on those in a future article.


By Benny Traub

PS. In case you didn’t know this bit of telephony trivia, DNIS is a telephone service that identifies the phone number of the caller and reports that number to the advertiser or the advertiser’s call-tracking service. DNIS passes the key tones (multi-frequency digits) through which are interpreted as callerID numbers.

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