Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released its biennial report to the US congress on the Do-Not-Call Registry. The latest instalment of the databook featured more information about complaints than previous years, including a breakdown of how many calls were made by a live caller and how many were robocalls.
Image: Federal Trade Commission
The report shows that in 2017 the FTC received 7.1 million complaints, which is 1.8 million more complaints than it received the previous year and twice as many complaints as it received in 2015. Out of the 2017 complaints, 2.5 million were about human spammers, while 4.5 million were about robocalls. The FTC is now averaging more than 375,000 complaints about robocalls per month.
According to the FTC, the most common categories of complaints were related to calls regarding debt reduction; vacation and timeshares; warranties and protection plans; medical and prescriptions; calls falsely claiming to be from companies, government, or friends and family; and calls with no message or dropped calls.
The memo mentions advancements in Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) that allows telemarketers to call more people for lower costs. New software also makes it easier for companies to falsify call ID information, making it difficult for agencies or law enforcement to locate callers and making it easier to convince you that you are receiving a call from someone you know.
This year, the FTC noticed an increase in reports about spoofed numbers from the same area code as the targeted party.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also regulates spam calls, but it receives significantly fewer complaints — about 185,000 from August 2016 to August 2017. Both agencies are trying to crack down on the plague of telemarketing calls. The FTC has sponsored several challenges over the last few years, encouraging developers to create software that detects and collects data on robocalls.
Earlier this year, the FCC approved rules that will help phone companies block robocalls.