Despite 15 years of the federal Do Not Call Registry and action by the FCC in recent years, robocalls continue to inundate Americans' phones day and night. The latest figures from the robocall-blocking service YouMail show there were 4.7 billion robocalls sent to U.S. phones in July, up 7.5% from June. Earlier this year, the monthly robocall total hit an all-time high in the U.S. at 5.2 billion. Overall, nearly 34 billion robocalls have been sent to Americans' phones already this year.
The type of robocalls received runs the gamut, from financial scams to threats of arrest. "We're seeing a rising tide of scams," says Alex Quilici, YouMail CEO. "So there are social security scammers, there are businesses trying to sell fake healthcare, there are student loan scams, there are easy-money scams that promise you a job on Amazon."
As for how to avoid robocalls, there is no easy way because scammers' methods are always changing. "These calls are not targeted, they simply dial numbers in sequence, and so eventually they hit everybody," says Quilici.
And the Do Not Call List is no big help. "The way to think about the Do Not Call List is as a No Trespassing sign," says Quilici. "Good guys won't trespass on your land, but the bad guys who want to burglarize you, they couldn't care less about it."
While things like the Do Not Call List and FCC crackdowns are well-intentioned, they haven't solved the problem. And Quilici believes there is no legislation or government action that can do it. "Nobody got a regulation that made all the computer viruses disappear, nobody made a regulation that made e-mail spam disappear," he says. "It was really a technological problem that ultimately had a technological solution."
Quilici recommends installing one of the free robocall-blocking apps now available. "You wouldn't run your computer without anti-virus software on it, and you can't run your cell phone without a robocall-blocking app anymore."