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

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip via KGO logo
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

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.

RELATED: Text message scammer poses as Bay Area man's friend, asks for gift cards

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.

VIDEO: Bay Area man loses $380K investing in cryptocurrency suggested by woman he met online

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.

RELATED: Bank impostor taunts San Jose woman after stealing $3,500 using her name

"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.

Have a question for Michael and the 7 On Your Side team? Fill out the form HERE! 7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.