Consumer Watchdog, PIRG
Consumer Watchdog, PIRG
According to a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, “Ringing in our Fears”, a year after a new federal law aimed at fighting robocalls went into place, the number of phone companies that have adopted the required technology has quadrupled and the volume of scam robocalls has dropped in half. But the Arizona PIRG Education Fund said that spam texts have increased more than tenfold as con artists and identity thieves find alternative ways to steal Americans’ personal information and money.
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s analysis of the Federal Communications Commission’s robocall mitigation database of 7,514 voice providers nationwide shows:
● 1,932 have installed the industry-standard STIR/SHAKEN technology, up from 536 companies last year.
● 1,518 have partially adopted the STIR/SHAKEN technology, up from 817 companies last year.
● 3,062 have not installed STIR/SHAKEN but claim to be using their own robocall mitigation system. That compares with 1,710 companies last year. The increase reflects companies that did not report their status last year.
● 1,002 claimed they’re exempt from the requirements, almost all because they’re intermediate providers that don’t originate or complete calls.
Teresa Murray, Consumer Watchdog for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, said that the number of monthly scam robocalls dropped from 2.1 billion to 1.1 billion in the year since the law took effect. Murray stated, “The phone companies’ actions appear to be helping, but clearly, incomplete compliance has not solved our national robocall problem.” Murray added, “While robocalls may be ringing in our ears less often, excessive robotexts, which have increased from 1 billion to 12 billion a month in the last year, are now ringing in our fears of being scammed.”
The report offers reasons for short-term optimism, starting with new enforcement partnerships between the FCC and attorneys general nationwide, including Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich. In addition, the FCC is targeting both “gateway” providers that funnel scam calls from overseas and smaller providers that originally were exempt from the law until June 2023, but now must comply. Still, the organization says that more needs to be done, including allowing public access to “traceback” data that shows which companies originate or allow scam robocalls on their lines.
“Research shows that 80 percent of us generally don’t answer calls from an unknown number,” Murray concluded. “Consumers rely on our phones, we pay good money for our phones, but it has become a hassle to use our phones the way we want to – to answer calls and texts. And the tales of people whose lives are wrecked by scam calls and texts are gut-wrenching. Illegal robocalls and robotexts need to stop.”
To reduce robocalls and related scams, the PIRG Education Fund encourages Arizonans to check out their online guide.