In May of this year there were 2.6 billion robocalls in the in the USA. Regardless of the FTC’s Do Not Call List, the numbers of unwanted calls are on the rise. On average, that’s over 8 calls a day per resident of the USA.
The FTC’s Do Not Call list was a wonderful idea designed to stop telemarketing calls, yet robocalls were up almost 5% last month. Being registered on the list means little to scammers who couldn’t care less about the laws in place to deter the activity. "Anytime you get a robocall in which somebody is trying to sell you a good or service, if you didn't give the caller prior expressed written consent for that call, that call is illegal," Janice Kopec, a staff attorney with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), told CNBC's "On the Money" recently. Kopec is part of one of two government agencies working to stop the problem.Despite the ongoing plight of the FTC, the surge in unwanted calls has lead to a massive rise in the number of complaints. In 2016 the FTC received close to 3.5 million robocalls complaints.
Legitimate businesses adhere to the law set by the FTC but for scammers, there is no deterrent as many are based outside of the USA. Scam callers have been getting savvier and are using new technologies to keep ahead of the game. "You can make millions of calls from anywhere in the world for a tiny amount of money, literally less than a cent a call," Kopec said. As long as people are falling for the scams, it’s worth it to the scammers to keep it up.
Spoofing has become key for scammers to stay ahead of consumers. Scammers are able to change the number on the caller ID so the calls look like they’re coming from a local source. Kevin Rupy, the vice president of law and policy for USTelecom had a warning for people. "A lot of the criminal actors that are operating in this space are very sophisticated in how they're pushing these calls out to consumers," Rupy said. "One example where you see is where the illegal robocallers will spoof the area code in the first three digits of the consumer's phone number, so that consumer believes that it could be the school calling, it could be my neighbor down the street calling, and they're going to be more inclined to pick up the phone," he added.