Robocalls Aren’t Cool

May 11, 2019

If you think robocalls are a cool trend involving robots and phone calls, you’re only partly right. Robocalling does indeed involve “robots,” but it definitely isn’t cool! Or at least the Federal Communication Commission, phone users, and phone companies don’t think so. Chances are, you or your parents have received a robocall in the past week. They’re usually automatically dialed calls from organizations or vendors. Autodialing, initially intended for emergencies or public service announcements, were designed to reach as many people as possible. However, in the past few decades, this auto dialing, or robocalling, has also been used for other purposes like marketing, community notifications (perhaps your school district calls to remind families of school closures), or even for campaigns during election season.

Nowadays, robocalls are more frequent, and more importantly, they’re intended to trick people. Take the case where users get a robocall announcing that authorities might arrest them if they don’t pay a fine. Now, many people might correctly identify these calls as robocalls and ignore them, but many others aren’t aware of such tricks and end up paying the “fine,” only to realize they’ve been duped. This week, a US House Representative committee called for strict punishment for those who use such systems to trick people. While such fines have already been established, not many robocalling organizations pay them, and the number of robocalls has increased to almost 48 billion in the US in 2018 alone. The committee also calls for telecom companies to identify suspicious numbers and help trace illegal calls so they can bring criminals to justice.

What can you do to keep robocalls from fooling you?