Robocalls down, robotexts up; new report reveals effectiveness of fighting spam calls and messages

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip KGO logo
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Robocalls down, robotexts up, says new report
You might hardly be able to tell the difference, but the number of robocalls in the last year has been cut in half, says one consumer group.

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- You might hardly be able to tell the difference, but the number of robocalls in the last year has been cut in half, says one consumer group. Here's what's gone right and what's gone wrong in the fight to stop the annoying calls.

Jimmy Sutton, who recently moved from his longtime home in Saratoga, says he gets up to 40 robocalls per day.

"I get calls at 6 a.m. in the morning. I get calls at midnight at night," he says.

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Marianne Smith of San Mateo says her voicemail is overcome with robocalls.

"It's very irritating when you get eight calls a day, average," she said.

A new report released by consumer advocacy group CALPIRG Tuesday offers hope.

The report, titled "Ringing In Our Ears," says the number of monthly spam calls declined by 47% year over year, going from 1.12 billion from 2.1 billion.

The drop coincides with a new law that makes phone companies responsible for preventing spam callers from using their service.

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The problem is many phone companies are not yet in compliance, but Sander Kushen of CALPIRG says that could change soon.

"They have started to crack down. We've seen like 18 cease-and-desist orders go out," he said.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta pledged that his office would do all it could to work with the feds to stop this seemingly endless problem.

"These calls aren't just annoying. They aren't just a source of frustration. Robocalls lead to real and devastating financial harm," said Attorney General Bonta.

Robocalls lead to $10 billion annually in fraud nationwide.

And even as robocalls decrease, robotexts have increased 12-fold to 12 billion per month in just one year.

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"There's definitely a correlation here between when the new law fighting robocalls went into effect," Kushen said.

A new proposal would expand the robocall fighting law to include robotexts as well.

Marianne Smith is trying to remain optimistic.

"I think there's a lot of people involved that can make the changes and they just need to get together and finally do it before it gets much worse," she said.

Up until this summer, smaller phone companies have been exempt from being required to stop spam calls. That exemption has since been lifted with the hope the number of robocalls will continue to drop.

CALPIRG: 18 tips to reduce robocalls and protect yourself from scams.

CALPIRG: Here's how to report illegal robocalls, Do Not Call violations in all 50 states

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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