Sunday, June 30, 2019

America's robocall epidemic

Today, almost half the telephone calls Americans receive come from automated sources. And that's according to a Federal Communications Commission report released this past February.

Last year, 47.8 billion robocalls got made in America, according to YouMail, a third-party robocall-blocking software company. And that was up 57% over 2017. (By contrast, The Wall Street Journal stated that Americans got hit with 26.3 billion of these automated calls in 2018...46% more than in 2017.)

The way YouMail tells it, that's less than 148 robocalls per person...or less than three automated calls per person per week.

Too many of us get more than our fair share.

It's one thing if you get one from your dentist's office or your doctor's office.

For me, most of the robocalls come from scammers.

I'm fortunate enough to have a caller ID unit hooked up to my phone...and until recently, I've been able to use this rule of thumb:

If, on your caller ID unit, the listing includes the name of the city where the call was made, you got a robocall. If the listing's got a person's name on there, an actual human being phoned you.  

What with scammers getting more and more sophisticated by the month (by the year for sure), that tactic no longer works.

Maybe you're in the same boat I'm in. Lots of automated calls I get are supposedly from the same part of town I live in. 

This tactic is called "neighborhood spoofing." Here, scammers use their computers to place calls that look as if they're coming from your own area the hopes that you'll more readily answer your phone.

Recently, scammers have started spoofing my own phone number. if I've got a reason to call myself. 

I've been on the National "Do Not Call" Registry (started in 2003). But the registry has its limits...especially where robocallers are concerned. After all, the phone pranksters spoof their identities and call from any number they darned well choose.

Got a landline phone rather than a cell phone (can't afford a cell phone at the present time)
...but if I had an Android or an iPhone or an iPad, it'd have a "Do Not Disturb" mode on it, that's for sure.

And I'm aware of the antirobocall apps out there, like Nomorobo, Robokiller, and Hiya. 

But I like- and I'm using- the solution How-to-Geek's Andrew Heinzman addressed in his 5-17-2019 post about America's robocall epidemic:

I've stopped answering my phone.  

I know, them's fightin' words to the average American. But if I don't pick up my phone each and every time it rings, and I, instead, wait and see if anybody left a REAL message on my answering machine (rather than an automated message), I decrease the number of robocalls I receive.

I'm trying to be proactive rather than waiting on this country's Congresscritters to come up with legislation to help fight this epidemic.

And I wonder about the FCC's efforts to hold robocallers accountable. In November of last year, agency chief Ajit Pai sent a dozen carriers a letter demanding that they come up with "a robust call-authentication system to combat illegal caller-ID spoofing."
He gave the phone providers until sometime here in 2019 to make real progress in developing this system. And if the companies don't, the FCC "will take action."

It's no surprise that robocalling in America is on the increase.

Take a look at who's calling the shots at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: The Ultimate Con Artist...the Master Swindler...the Grifter in Chief.

He's the same man who nominated Pai to run the FCC.