Consumer Watchdog

Getting more robocalls? Yeah, a lot of us are

Scam calls and unwanted telemarketing calls are creeping up.

If you’ve been thinking you’re getting more spam robocalls lately, you’re probably right. Unwanted robocalls have increased by 15% in the last three months, according to YouMail. Scam calls and telemarketing calls jumped to 2.2 billion in May nationwide, the company said. That’s up from 1.9 billion in February.

The total number of robocalls now exceeds 5 billion a month, which is also an increase. But when you hear these numbers thrown around, it’s important to remember that more than half of robocalls are ones we sign up for — such as appointment reminders or school closing announcements — or are payment notifications that aren’t illegal.

One of the most common unwanted calls in May, according to YouMail: Telemarketing pitches for government grants. Millions of calls from someone identified as Crystal Allen were generated from thousands of different phone numbers, promising free grants of up to $26,000 for every employee a business kept on payroll during 2020 and 2021. A large chunk of those calls were made to individuals, not businesses, and to people who didn’t give prior consent. 

Phone calls and texts are generally illegal if they’re: 

  • Recorded telemarketing calls to a cell or home phone without written permission.
  • Autodialed calls or texts to your cell phone, or any prerecorded calls to your cell phone without your permission. 
  • Calls aimed at deceiving or defrauding you.

Note: Not all telemarketing calls are illegal. But they are if you’re on the Do Not Call list.

You should report illegal robocalls or Do Not Call list violations. You can call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or file a complaint online at and . You can also report them to your state attorney general. See the contact information for the attorneys general in every state here.

Scam and telemarketing calls remain below the 2.8 billion-per-month level before the robocall-fighting law went into effect in June 2021.

It’s important to remember just two things to protect yourself from scam calls:

  1. Don’t engage with unexpected calls, texts or emails: Don’t answer, don’t click on links, don’t respond.
  2. If you do answer the call, or open the text or email, don’t provide any personal or financial information. Ever. And don’t press buttons or reply to have yourself removed from their list. It actually just tells them there’s a live person on the other end and you’ll probably get contacted by more scammers.

What can you do to reduce unwanted calls?

  1. If you don’t want to receive sales calls, register your phone number with the federal Do Not Call Registry. It’s easy. Legitimate businesses will honor your request because it’s the law. It should reduce unwanted calls (but not necessarily eliminate all of them,) and registering with the Do Not Call Registry gives you more legal rights to file complaints.
  2. Use multiple robocall filters. Each one offers an opportunity to catch something that slips through the previous filter. You can route calls that are flagged straight to your voicemail. Start by asking your phone company what robocall filters it offers at no charge. For more information on call blockers, the FTC recommends consulting with the CTIA, the wireless industry’s trade association.
    Here are lists of reputable robocall filtering software for cell phones. Some are free; some cost money.
    For Apple (iOS):…
    For Androids:…
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