Rise of the Robocallers: How we will avoid future of scammers

are blowing up our phones. numbers flash on our smartphone screens almost daily. It's gotten so bad that people simply don't pick up the phone anymore.

And it's getting worse. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found the number of official complaints about robocalls increased fourfold between 2009 and 2017. According to the latest numbers by YouMail, an app dedicated to help you stop robocalls, the average person gets 13.6 robocalls a month — that's 4.4 billion robocalls placed to phones in the U.S. last month alone.

That's a big jump: last October, it was almost half of that. Why the sudden uptick? As the New York Times points out, robocalls are becoming easier and cheaper to make, especially thanks to new technologies that allow you to make calls from your computer, like voice over internet protocol (VoIP). For instance, a Miami man was recently accused of making 100 million spoofed calls in less than 100 days. A D.C. Circuit appeals court also struck down stricter Obama-era robocall rules, easing the pressure on robocallers. So it's now much harder for people to sue robocallers, according to CNET. And that means they can get away with a lot more.

Of course, organizations have made efforts to stop the telephonic onslaught. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), mobile carriers, and even smartphone makers have tried, and so far, none have truly succeeded.

Soon, tech-based solutions have become sophisticated enough that they could finally help reduce the number of robocalls. The only question is: will the robocallers stay one step ahead?

Not all robocalls are scams. In fact, robocalls can be pretty darn useful. They can help make citizens aware of an oncoming hurricane, remind patients of upcoming doctors' appointments, or notify credit card holders of possible fraud.

But the broadly-accepted definition of “robocalls” is a catch-all for legitimate uses and illegitimate scams and spam, making the distinction between the two a lot harder — and that makes tackling the issue from a government perspective much harder, too. “Think of as clever marketers who are in the wrong business,” says Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail. “As a marketer, their goal is for you to pick up the phone and answer so they can pitch you.”

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