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Robocalls Really Were Worse Than Ever Last Year, Report Finds

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If you don’t pick up the phone anymore because each time it seems to be one of those annoying robocallers, you’re not alone. A newly released report found that 26.3 billion robocalls were made to U.S. phone numbers in 2018, up 46 percent from 18 billion in 2017. Yikes.

The report was compiled by Hiya, a spam call monitoring app. In it, it found that the average person received 10 spam calls a month, with the top area codes targeted by spammers primarily coming from Texas. Dallas (214), Fort Worth (817), and San Antonio (210) topped the list.


The data is alarming, though a November report by the Federal Trade Commission on its Do-Not-Call Registry showed an overall decrease in filed complaints in fiscal year 2018. From October 2017 to September 2018, the agency received about 5.7 million complaints, of which 3.8 million were reports of robocalls and 1.9 million regarded live callers. That’s down from 7.1 million overall complaints in FY 2017, of which 4.5 million regarded robocalls. But while the overall number of complaints may have fallen, the percentage of robocall complaints did increase from about 63 percent of the total to 66 percent. And according to the FTC’s updated databook for the Do Not Call Registry, the most common types of robocalls received dealt primarily with debt reduction, medical prescriptions, and imposters.

Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission said it received more than 52,000 complaints about caller ID spoofing in 2018 alone.


The scourge of robocalls has gotten national attention and created federal pressure to fix the problem. While both the FTC and FCC were impacted by the government shutdown, a Senate bill was introduced that could hit robocallers with a $10,000 fine for every call. Plus, there’s hope for 2019. In November, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called on carriers to adopt the SHAKEN/STIR protocol, which act as a type of caller authentication. T-Mobile is currently the first U.S. carrier to implement SHAKEN/STIR, announcing earlier this month that users would begin to see “Caller Verified” notices on supported phones.

[Verge, Washington Post]