If You Think Robocalls Have Gotten Worse Over The Years, You’re Not Wrong

In a rare unanimous decision, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Thursday to allow cell phone carriers to block robocalls for customers by default. The decision will surely be welcome news to many Americans, because several points of data show that robocalls are getting worse, and have been for the last few years.

During 2018, the volume of monthly robocalls rose precipitously, from 2.9 billion in January to 4.1 billion in June, according to the robocall-tracking site YouMail. Although it’s oscillated since then, there were 5.2 billion robocalls in March 2019; according to YouMail’s data, that’s the highest monthly volume in at least four years.

Yearly data shows a similar trend. Between 2016 and 2017, the annual number of robocalls rose slightly, from 29 billion to 30.5 billion. But they skyrocketed the next year, jumping to 47.8 billion, according to YouMail. There have already been 24.9 billion robocalls in the first five months of 2019, putting Americans on track to receive over 59 billion robocalls by the end of the year.

According to an FCC report from February, formal complaints from consumers about unwanted calls jumped from 185,000 in 2017 to 232,000 in 2018. That’s an imperfect metric, however, as it includes not only robocalls but also calls from both telemarketers.

More to come …

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