It's not just you: spam calls were up nearly 20% in 2019.
The robots love America.
If you’re like pretty much every single human being, you’re not a fan of robocalls. Unfortunately, it appears this problem is only getting worse, and there isn’t a lot of hope that it will get better any time soon.
A new report from Truecaller Insights finds the number of spam calls people are receiving increased by 18 percent worldwide since last year.
In the United States, spam calls increased by 7 percent. The United States has consistently been one of the top 10 countries with the most spam calls since Truecaller starting putting out this report two years ago. The report claims we are now at a point where roughly 35 percent of spam calls in America are robocalls. The other spam calls are from scammers, people trying to sell us things and people in financial services.
Unfortunately, a surprising number of people fall for phone scams. The report claims about 1 in 6 Americans—over 40 million people—ends up becoming the victim of a scam because of these kinds of calls. These scams cost Americans over $10 billion last year alone.
Americans receive a lot of spam calls, but this problem is much worse in many other countries. People who live in Brazil receive the most spam calls, followed by Peru, Indonesia, Mexico and then India. In Brazil, nearly half of all phone calls are from someone who is trying to sell something.
But there’s gotta be some hope, right? Someone is working on fixing this problem… right? Unfortunately, American politicians haven’t been extremely successful at fighting off the nuisance of phone spammers.
The House of Representatives passed a bill called the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act back in July, which would help greatly reduce the number of robocalls Americans receive, but it hasn’t gone anywhere in the Senate. That’s not to say it won’t, but it doesn’t look like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making it any kind of priority.
When that bill passed, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said in a statement that passing a bill like this is important because it will restore the integrity of our phone systems.
“The rising tide of unlawful, unwanted robocalls started as a nuisance but now threatens the way consumers view and use their telephones,” Pallone said. “These calls are undermining our entire phone system, and that’s something we all need to take very, very seriously.”
The Senate did pass a bill called the TRACED Act earlier this year, which would create an interagency task force to go after phone scammers, but that bill also has yet to go anywhere in the House. It’s unclear where things are going to go next.
The Federal Trade Commission announced in June that it will be cracking down on illegal robocalls, but it doesn’t seem like there’s been much success yet. A report from the spam-blocking phone app RoboKiller that was put out last month claimed there were 5.5 billion robocalls in October alone. That’s almost a record, and it was a 12 percent increase from September.
Unless Congress and federal agencies really commit to cracking down on this problem, we’re likely going to keep receiving more and more robocalls. I’ve received two robocalls since I started writing this piece, so I guess this is just the hellscape we live in for now.