Americans received 50 billion robocalls and texts in November


(Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — In November alone, Americans received more than 50 billion unsolicited phone calls and text messages.

Many of these are geared toward scamming people out of their money — just in time for the holidays.
According to the free robocall blocking app YouMail, in November alone, Americans received nearly 5 billion robocalls, making for a whopping total of 46 billion robocalls so far this year.

Some of them are actually legitimate — your doctor’s appointment, bill reminders and delivery messages — but more than half are unwanted telemarketing scams costing Americans roughly $30 billion a year.

“There’s a whole bunch of scam calls now pretending to be major U.S. corporations,” Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, said. “For example, pretending to be Amazon or pretending to be Google … or a message saying there’s an iPhone purchase for $1,299 on your credit card.”

Now, when the person who answers the phone presses 1, they’ll be connected to someone doing everything they can to get a credit card number and identity information, Quilici said.

Giulia Porter, vice president of RoboKiller, another app that blocks robocalls, said it’s estimated that Americans are losing up to $1,200 per text or scam call.

Adding to this problem are robotexts.

According to Robokiller, Americans received a record-shattering 47 billion spam text messages during the month of November. That’s a whopping 160% increase in just one month.

“Americans, unfortunately, are on track to be the most phone-spammed they’ve ever been,” Porter said. “We’re seeing this massive explosion in robotexts. A big part of that increase was actually around the holiday season.”

A bipartisan group of attorneys general joined forces to crack down on this issue by forming a nationwide anti-robocall litigation task force to investigate and prosecute companies suspected of using illegal robocalls.

“You may see, occasionally, on your phone a message that says potential spam,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said. “Well, the reason why you get that is because state attorneys general required and demanded that the telecommunications companies use technology known as STIR/SHAKEN.”

STIR/SHAKEN is a set of technical standards and protocols that allows telecommunications companies to stop or at least identify spam calls. Calls traveling through interconnected phone networks can have their caller ID “signed” as legitimate, and validated by other carriers, before reaching consumers, the FCC said.

Experts say Southern states see a higher volume of robocall scams, with seniors and lower-income Americans targeted most often.

These are a few ways the FCC suggests to keep people from falling victim to these phone predators:

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.
  • If the caller claims to be from a legitimate company, hang up and call them back using a number from your latest bill.
  • Be aware of caller ID showing a “local” number.
  • If a caller asks for payment using a gift card, it’s likely a scam.
  • If you receive a scam call, file a complaint with the FCC consumer complaint center.

People can also ask the phone company if it offers a robocall-blocking service, and consider registering their phones with the national “Do Not Call” list.

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