Robocalls are on the rise with no end in sight

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

Robocalls are to cell phones what spam is to email. Useless calls that nobody wants or needs, generously peppered with scams to steal your money or personal information.

A recent look at my call blocker logs shows that I received over 90 calls from telemarketers and potential scammers in April alone. I know from my experience with the app that the majority of these were automated calls. However, it appears I am not alone in my plight against these annoying disturbances.

According to stats released by YouMail, a popular call monitoring app, “3.4 billion robocalls were placed nationwide in April 2018, equaling roughly 10.4 calls per person affected.” Although I switched from YouMail to another service, I'm saddened to see that I’m well above their recorded average.

Even more saddening is that the problem is only getting worse. Automated calls have increased by 900 million calls since this time last year. The surge in spam calls comes despite efforts from regulators and telecoms to reduce such abuse.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 and the National Do Not Call Registry established in 2003 have done very little to stem the tide of telemarketers, both legitimate and otherwise, even though the registry now contains almost 230 million numbers.

Scam callers are continually looking for ways to circumvent laws, regulations, and blocking methods. Technology has enabled companies to not only call anonymously by spoofing numbers but also by using machines to make the calls so more numbers can be reached in a day than by having humans conduct the dialing.

While the problem is increasing, it is not being ignored by regulators. In just the last two weeks, both the House and the Senate have either passed or introduced bills to combat robocalls. These measures are in addition to regulations enacted in 2017 allowing telecoms to block certain types of calls.

However, being that most scam calls travel through various networks and cellular providers, they are hard to trace to an originating location. Even then most scammers reside outside the jurisdiction of the United States so little, if anything, can be done to punish or stop the callers.

It seems that the only real way to fight robocalls is to develop better technology to identify the calls as they come in. Call blockers like YouMail or AT&T's Call Protect, while not perfect, are at least good enough at holding back most scam calls. It is one of those cases where some defense is better than none at all.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
"Federal regulators can enact all the rules they want, but it does little to stop off-shore scammers"

That is absolute bunk! Telco's are all using the same or similar digital PBX exchanges that have a much bigger host of features that are not made available to the every day user. They have extensive programming capabilities. Telco's have the ability now and have had for a long time to force callers ID's to be presented, verified or diverted. This existed back in the days of the old FOCUS 40 and 80.

Let's be truthful. Phone carrier's don't want to do anything to limit callers because it costs them business. If those Telco's were held legally responsibility and liable you would see immediate actions taken to stop the problems. Can't solve them all but they can sure make a much bigger dent in the problem than they are willing to admit.
 

Hexic

TS Evangelist
While I agree that Telcos could perhaps do more, it is very easy to spoof a number from within a legitimate PBX, say when it's been compromised/not patched up sufficiently.

Coming from somebody who has worked in the Telco industry and personally programmed PBX's for some time, filtering out illegitimate traffic is difficult due to the fact of so many avenues that are able to be taken advantage of.

For example, I can get into most PBX's these days (regardless of vendor, mostly) and reprogram the outbound ISDN trace to whatever I want. I'm very interested on the solution that will be provided in the future, this isn't an overly simplistic issue when dealing with this on a large scale.
 

tipstir

TS Ambassador
True Caller works for me I need to know who the heck is calling my cell phone so I can weed out the spam callers. Yet you can't block them from your voicemail! I don't even have my voice mail address my name it's just calls into my number. Those with robot calling I use to be able to block them using a laptop and modem from 2003 to 2012. With a combination of reverse tones, pluses and waves, and strange girl Friday voices that would put them off my scent. It all worked! Thus cutting the cord and removing all digital phone service from my house thus going 100% cell phone only. Most of the callers block then calls by UNKNOWN, PRIVATE, ANONYMOUS. I block all these type of calls twice on my phone with default block on the other block. So they're force to show a name on my caller ID. I like you could block all toll free numbers but tool free use to be only 800 not it's anything goes.

I use to see under the landline : 111-111-1111, 000-000-0000 and 999-999-9999 this gets me how such numbers are allow though the system. Yes the software I use to use could block all these various ways they do it. Today you can now do CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS for anything and get your money back for lost overtime from your job, recall of exploding air bags if you got hurt. Debit Cards transactions on your receipt that shows all your personal information that shouldn't be shown. Lets go after these so called companies let them pay you for calling you up and wasting your life and time with their silly calls on your own private cell phone. It's my cell phone it's not theirs. It's my phone and I can do whatever I want on my cell phone because it's mine. I only use it to text, do video calls and voice calls to people I know. If I don't know you just wasting your time trying to get me live I will not answer anyone I don't know anymore. Let it go to voice mail.
 

cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
Maybe I'm in the minority, but I feel this is a topic that congress should pursue and prosecute. But then that would mean they are just as guilty for robocalling for their campaigns. How silly of me to think they would put a stop to their campaign calling.
 
Block all phone calls from india, just allow the authorized tech support lines. If the country doesn't actively prevent scamming start trade embargo and if nothing else helps war. This is attack against your citizens and it's laughable how little you are willing to do to prevent it.
 
Maybe I am in the minority, however, if I do not recognize the number that is calling, then I do not answer. If it is important, the calling party will leave a message; if the call is not important, then no message will be left. Problem solved.
If so, we're in the same group. I especially ignore calls that are extremely close to my cellphone number (I.e. same area code & prefix), because those are almost certainly robo-callers.
 
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I

iamcts

Block all phone calls from india, just allow the authorized tech support lines. If the country doesn't actively prevent scamming start trade embargo and if nothing else helps war. This is attack against your citizens and it's laughable how little you are willing to do to prevent it.
Starting a war because you're getting robocalls? That escalated quickly.
 

stewi0001

TS Evangelist
Platinum
The spoofing numbers defiantly is a big problem. My wife and one other person I know have had people harass them with text messages and what not about why they keep calling them. When in reality its a bot or something spoofing with their numbers...

However the FCC seemed more concerned about killing Net-Neutrality than the bot calls and spoofing... I wonder why *sarcasm*

In case you guys forgot, at least the Jolly Roger Telephone Company (http://www.jollyrogertelco.com/) is trying to fight against telemarketers and bots
 

seeprime

TS Guru
Block all phone calls from india, just allow the authorized tech support lines. If the country doesn't actively prevent scamming start trade embargo and if nothing else helps war. This is attack against your citizens and it's laughable how little you are willing to do to prevent it.
I think scammers would simply spoof the legitimate phone numbers. Foreign governments need to step in and prosecute their in-house criminals, unless they're paid off by the scammers to look the other way.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
Maybe I am in the minority, however, if I do not recognize the number that is calling, then I do not answer. If it is important, the calling party will leave a message; if the call is not important, then no message will be left. Problem solved.
That latest 'Mandarin Chinese Consulate' robocall left messages on my voicemail. It didn't care, so now the number of the Chinese consulate (the one spoofed by the robo call) in several different cities is blacklisted in my phone. Probably for the best anyway.
 
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Trillionsin

TS Evangelist
Maybe I am in the minority, however, if I do not recognize the number that is calling, then I do not answer. If it is important, the calling party will leave a message; if the call is not important, then no message will be left. Problem solved.
If so, we're in the same group. I especially ignore calls that are extremely close to my cellphone number (I.e. same area code & prefix), because those are almost certainly robo-callers.
Yes, I think I read somewhere that THEY believe you will be more likely to answer if its a number you recognize or from your area. Any more now this is just a dead giveaway... anyone in my area worth calling me is gonna leave a message or text me.
 
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Gamblin Man

TS Member
Block all phone calls from india, just allow the authorized tech support lines. If the country doesn't actively prevent scamming start trade embargo and if nothing else helps war. This is attack against your citizens and it's laughable how little you are willing to do to prevent it.
I think scammers would simply spoof the legitimate phone numbers. Foreign governments need to step in and prosecute their in-house criminals, unless they're paid off by the scammers to look the other way.
Scammers are already spoofing legitimate phone numbers. I answered a call last night from the local bowling alley, and it was a warranty scam. No more answering calls. If it's important, they'll leave a message. I shut my ringers off also, so I'm not disturbed.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Maybe I'm in the minority, but I feel this is a topic that congress should pursue and prosecute. But then that would mean they are just as guilty for robocalling for their campaigns. How silly of me to think they would put a stop to their campaign calling.
Agreed!

That's the thing, though. The laws make both charity and political calls legal - at least as I understand it.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Block all phone calls from india, just allow the authorized tech support lines. If the country doesn't actively prevent scamming start trade embargo and if nothing else helps war. This is attack against your citizens and it's laughable how little you are willing to do to prevent it.
The Trump approach to robo calls. Brilliant!
 
S

senketsu

I recently received one in Mandarin Chinese. I only know this because I know the Mandarin Chinese greeting. Did they waste their time on that one. Only understood one word of entire call (I actually listened).
 

Capaill

TS Evangelist
The way to stop this is to make it too expensive for them to make calls. How are they being charged? Even if they are using software to do free calls, once the call hits the national exchange, it should be possible to hit it with a massive charge. A call cannot reach your house or cell/mobile phone without transferring through a local exchange / operator - identify the calls there and charge them appropriately.