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article image4.5 million complaints made in the U.S. in 2017 about robocalls

By Ken Hanly     Jan 2, 2018 in Technology
In 2017 complaints about automated telemarketing calls (robocalls) in the US rose sharply. Since 2009 they have risen by a factor of five times.
A recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report shows there were 375,000 complaints per month about automated robocalls compared with 63,000 per month in 2009. Robocalls are not the only problems, as in 2017 there were also 2.5 million complaints about live telemarketing calls. The total complaints about robocalls during 2017 were 4.5 million.
Why there are more robocalls
Internet calling services and autodiaing are now cheap and easy to access. Spammers are developing more ways to easily hide their identity and location.
Spammers can now make it look as if they are calling locally as they seem to come from a local area code.
Popular robocall subjects
The most popular complaint is about debt reduction calls. Here in Canada, perhaps it is similar. I am constantly getting calls about reducing interest charges on my credit card. My credit card never had a negative balance so I paid no interest.
The are also many calls about vacations and timeshares, prescription medication, and warranties. As well there are "imposter" calls that purport to be from government, businesses, or friends when they are not.
Those making illegal robocalls are facing bigger fines
Most US robocalls are not legal even if the recipients are not on the National Do Not Call Registry. There are exceptions including charities and political campaigns.
Adrian Abramovich, a resident of Miami Florida, auto-dialed hundreds of millions of robocalls to land lines and cell phones both in the United States and Canada. In the last three months of 2016 alone he made almost 97 million robocalls.
Federal regulators say that Abramovich's campaign was one of the largest they have ever investigated. At one point, his calls even overwhelmed an emergency medical paging service.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing he face a fine of $120 million.
More steps being taken to block robocalls
Earlier this year, T-Mobile introduced Scam ID and Scam Block that was later extended to MetroPCS users. Scam Block keeps the robocalls from reaching a phone entirely. They are both free.
As well, the FCC passed a proposal that would allow phone companies to block calls that spoof nonexistent numbers.
However, as the report complaint numbers show, the number of annoying robocalls continues to grow.
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More about Robocalls, FTC, Fcc
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