Outsourcing phone lines to virtual reception companies can reduce the headache and cost of annoying telemarketing and machine-made calls.

Businesses and individuals have noticed an increase in the number of machine-based calls they are receiving, and the Federal Communications Commission has the math to back up those feelings. The number of robotic calls made in March 2017 is up 11 percent over the February totals, which means approximately 2.45 billion of these calls were made in the nation in just 31 days.

Robocalls can be an annoyance for small business staff, who are already usually facing a to-do list longer than the day itself. Taking a few minutes to answer a phone call that doesn’t go anywhere can mean missing a call from a legitimate client or losing focus on a complex or important task. Consistent telemarketing and robocalls can reduce revenue and increase expenses for small business.

These calls also reflect a risk for business owners: some are designed to elicit responses or information that can be used to run scams or steal identities. Employees who are busy dealing with other matters might not pay close attention to what seems like a simple telemarketing call, increasing the chance that the business might be compromised.

While businesses can block numbers and take other defensive measures to minimize the damages from these increasing calls, many experts point to aggressive screening as the best medicine for robocalls. Individuals from both the Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission are reported as saying screening is one of the strongest deterrents.

Letting all calls go to voicemail isn’t an option for businesses, though. Many people don’t leave messages when calling, and playing phone tag with potential customers or existing clients is both annoying to the consumer and an unnecessary draw on staff time.

Instead, many small businesses are turning to virtual reception services to help increase overall efficiencies and reduce risks from machine-made calls. Virtual receptionists aren’t dealing with other business matters and client concerns, so they can concentrate on the content of every call. They are also specially trained to appropriately screen phone calls, ensuring important communications and client calls make it through while telemarketing efforts are stopped before they reach the business.

Virtual reception services cost around the same each month as sophisticated call blocking boxes, making them an affordable option for SMBs. They also come with extra benefits, including the ability to handle appointment scheduling or provide basic information to callers.