Robocalls Rocketing After a Pandemic Pause
For a brief moment as the COVID-19 pandemic was gathering steam, it looked like robocalls might become less of a nuisance. These automated intrusions, which are often illegal, hit a peak of 5.7 billion in October 2019. But soon after, as the pandemic hammered the U.S. economy and companies shut down call centers, robocalls plunged almost by half.
Alas, that trend has petered out and spam calls are once again barraging our phones. Robocalls have not yet recovered their pre-pandemic peak, but they are now averaging 4.1 billion a month. In perspective, that comes to more than 1,500 calls per second, according to AARP.
On May 19, the Federal Communications Commission tried to stem the tide, targeting spam calls that originate overseas. Under the new rules, so-called “gateway providers” that enable foreign robocalls to enter U.S. phone networks are supposed to help keep out the phonies.
Hopefully, the new rules will help. But robocallers are awfully persistent. That in mind, consumers can protect themselves by taking the following steps recommended by AARP:
Download a call blocker. These tools, which may be free, are designed to prevent spam calls from reaching your phone. They may be offered by phone companies and have different features. For further information: https://www.fcc.gov/call-blocking.
Let the call go to voice mail. If you decide to call back, make sure to use a legitimate number – don’t assume that the number left in voicemail is safe.
Hang up the phone. If the call sounds fishy, do not engage. That applies to robocalls or a live caller on the other end.
Learn more about the challenge. The FCC is a good place to start. You can find loads of information at: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/stop-unwanted-robocalls-and-texts.