NEW REPORT: More than 5,000 phone companies ignoring robocall rules

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WASHINGTON – By now, nearly every phone company in the United States is supposed to have adopted robocall-fighting technology. However, more than 5,000 phone companies — two-thirds of those in the U.S. —  haven’t completely installed the technology, according to U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s new report, “Ringing in Our Fears 2023.”

Cell and internet-based phone companies had until June 30, 2023, to install robocall defense standards aimed at thwarting spoofed and spam calls. That’s a big reason why, two years after the law against robocalls took effect, Americans still get so many annoying — and sometimes financially dangerous — robocalls.

Robocalls didn’t become a major problem overnight and they’re not going to be squashed in a day or a month or even a year,” said U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog Teresa Murray, the author of the report. “But we need to crack down on robocalls quicker and harder. The amount of fraud perpetrated by illegal callers grows every year. This is not OK.”

The federal law requiring phone companies to install technology known as STIR/SHAKEN to filter bad robocalls took effect on June 30, 2021. Compliance deadlines were staggered based on the type and size of company. The last batch of small companies and “gateway” providers that receive calls from foreign providers had until June 30, 2023.

Scam calls have declined during the last two years but are still a huge problem. Con artists often get someone’s personal information, then target them for fraud, according to YouMail, one of the largest robocall-blocking companies in the United States. Consumers defrauded through a phone call lost a median of $1,400 in 2022, according to the Federal Trade Commission

“Of course, robocalls are annoying and waste our time, at a minimum. More importantly, they can also be costly and even financially devastating,” Murray said. ”Some families are tricked into sending money or sharing account log-ins or other information. Yes, more is being done now than a couple of years ago. But it’s not enough, because robocallers continue to hurt people.” 

Our report digs into the reasons, including a lack of law enforcement, that so many providers haven’t yet installed STIR/SHAKEN. We also look at the trends regarding robocalls and mounting volumes of robotexts and what regulators are doing to better protect us.

See our consumer guide and tips on avoiding scams and robocalls.