TAMPA, Fla. - If you’ve noticed half a dozen or more calls a day to your phone that you don’t want, consumer experts said robocalls are on the rise and going to get worse.
So far this year, 38 billion robocalls spammed Americans, but that number is lower than in 2019 because the pandemic, according to robocall blocking app YouMail.
“One of the nice benefits of the pandemic is that robocalls really dropped,” said Alex Quilici, the CEO of YouMail.
Now that coronavirus-related restrictions have eased up, the numbers of robocalls people received per day has increased.
“The robocalls now are probably a month or two away from being back to the levels they were pre-pandemic. They’ve been going up 5, 10 percent a month,” said Quilici. “A few more months, they’re going to be right where they were.”
Not all robocalls and even texts are unwanted. Some are legitimate, calling you with reminders or alerts. But Tampa consumer attorney Billy Howard said figuring out the difference is tricky. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act or TRACED Act is a law designed to crack down on robocall violations and companies making the calls, and the president signed it into law in early 2020.
However, Howard said the current law does not do enough to define what a robo-caller is.
“The TRACED Act looked like it was going to be the answer to a lot of people’s prayers. But in reality, it was stripped of the exact issue that is in front of the Supreme Court, and that is what is the definition of an auto-dialer,” said Howard, the founding partner of The Consumer Protection Firm, which specializes in robo-dialing cases.
Experts said it’s better to take action into your own hands.
“You run anti-virus on your computer. You need to have robocall blocking apps on your cellphone. So no matter what happens with the government, or wireless carriers or other companies, you need to protect yourself,” said Quilici.
Attorneys also recommend filing complaints with the Federal Trade Commission.
“It’s just another reminder that if you don’t recognize the telephone number, do not answer it,” said Howard.
Even the U.S. Supreme Court is dealing with whether robocalling is allowed in some cases. In the next couple of months, the Supreme Court is expected to hear from Facebook and whether it violated anti-robocalling rules.