FTC says spammy robocalls have gotten worse in past decade

Inside Subprime: January 18, 2018

By Andrew Tavin

If there are two things the people of this divided nation can agree on, they are as follows:

  1. Telemarketers are the worst.
  2. No one likes having to talk to pre-recorded voices over the phone.

Combine those two things, and you get the literal scourge of the earth. You know, they’re those pesky robocalls that so often come from numbers with your area code, featuring a dead-sounding robotic voice telling you to do something. A robocaller’s agenda varies from call to call – they might try and get you to buy insurance for a car you don’t have, announce that you’ve won a bogus tropical vacation or beg you to vote for a certain candidate in an upcoming election.

Whatever the scheme, if you’ve noticed an uptick in the amount of spam calls you’ve been getting lately, a new report from the Federal Trade Commission is here to say you’re not crazy.

The FTC report on its ‘Do Not Call Registry,’ which was created in the summer of 2003 to curtail telemarketers, shows that robocall complaints have risen massively in the past decade.

In theory, the Do Not Call Registry allows people to add their phone numbers to a list that is supposed to be off-limits to telemarketers. While it’s technically already illegal for autodialers or robocalls to reach out to cell phones, anyone with a phone that’s not a landline knows this is basically never enforced. The same goes for the Registry, which companies can pay fees to get around. 

Every two years since February 2008, the FTC has issued a report on the status of the Do-Not-Call registry, and the most recent report makes clear just how bad the issue of robocalls have become:

“In the fourth quarter of 2009, the FTC received approximately 63,000 complaints about illegal robocalls each month. That number has more than quintupled — in FY 2017, the FTC received an average of more than 375,000 robocall complaints per month. In the year since August 1, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission, which also regulates telemarketing and robocalls, received nearly 185,000 complaints about calls that consumers did not want.”

The report cites new technologies like “Voice Over Internet Protocol,” which allow otherwise prohibited callers to call a greater number of phones, including those on the registry. In turn, the FTC is working with partners in the industry to develop new technologies to maintain the integrity of the registry.

Still, unless serious action is taken, robocalls will probably only continue to increase until the next report is issued in 2020. Perhaps it’s all an effort by the robots to take over society by annoying us into submission.

To learn more about the FTC and emerging technologies, check out these related pages and articles from OppLoans:

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