U.S. Phones Were Hit by More Than 50 Billion Robocalls in 2021
As I've been warning for some time now, the barrage of spam calls to American consumers has barely abated despite efforts to counter them by the government and telecommunications industry.
Americans received 50.5 billion robocalls in 2021, a 14 percent lower volume than the peak year of 2019, with more than 58 billion robocalls, but approximately 10 percent higher than 2020, with 45.9 billion robocalls, according to data compiled by YouMail, providers of a free robocall blocking app and call protection service for mobile phones.
In December alone, Americans received slightly less than 3.6 billion robocalls, a 13 percent decline from November. The December average was 115.1 million calls per day day and 1,332 calls per second versus November, in which robocalls averaged 137.4 million calls per day and 1,590 calls per second, down 16% on a daily basis. This decline was driven by a big drop in the last few weeks of the month, as the robocallers appeared to have taken time off for the holiday season.
"The good news is that monthly robocalls continue to be on a lower plateau since the STIR/SHAKEN rollout on June 30," said YouMail CEO Alex Quilici in a statement. "The bad news is that total robocalls still exceeded 50 billion for the year, which is roughly 200 robocalls this year for every adult with a phone."
More bad news: Spam and scam calls continue to make up a large percentage of calls. Overall for the year, the scam category topped the list with almost 30 billion scam or spam calls, or slightly less than 60 percent of all calls.
In December, the number of scam calls decreased by 4 percent, while telemarketing calls decreased 18 percent, payment reminders decreased 18 percent, and alerts and reminders decreased 11 percent. While all types of calls decreased over the holidays, scam calls decreased the least, as it appears that scam robocallers took little time off.
I think the large majority of those calls hit my cell and landline phones; on some days, I was reporting a dozen or more scammers to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violating the Do Not Call list, which I still contend is a huge waste of time and computer bandwidth.
The FTC announced recently that in the past fiscal year the Do Not Call Registry has added an additional 2.8 million registrations from consumers, reaching a total of 244 million active registrations. The FTC also previously released data showing that for the third consecutive year, the number of calls from those pretending to be legitimate services have topped the Do Not Call complaint list, with approximately 12 percent of the nearly 5 million calling complaints made to the FTC flagged as imposter calls by consumers.
Consumers are clearly fed up, and this data risks placing legitimate sales representatives and telemarketers into the same boat as these imposter callers. Sales representatives and marketers will need to reaffirm their validity and instill trust in the buying process, which is an unfair burden to place on them. COVID has made their jobs hard enough, they don't need this extra challenge.
At a time when we can communicate with satellites thousands of lightyears into space, we should be able to locate the source of illegal scam calls here on Earth. I find it hard to fathom that we can isolate an individual in a crowded city by using facial recognition software and satellite imagery, but we can't locate an illegal call center operator in the Philippines or India. These people can't be that elusive, if the ridiculous nature of most of the scams are any indicator of their intelligence.