Robocalls: Breaking News on America’s Digital Pest

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, scams have been on the rise. From telehealth fraud to stimulus check fraud, scammers are hacking American’s personal information, such as phone numbers. Luckily, the month of April saw some improvement in robocalls, but there are still steps to take to decrease your scam exposure. Here is what you need to know about robocalls and how to avoid them!

April’s decline in robocalls

Americans received just under 2.9 billion robocalls in April, which is a 30 percent decline from the heavy amount in March. 

The month of April averaged over 95 million calls per day, or roughly 1,104 calls per second, a whopping 44 percent decline from the 172 million robocalls per day in February. April robocalls were almost 50 percent lower than last October’s monthly peak of 5.7 billion calls.

“April’s massive decline in robocalls shows that COVID-19 is accomplishing what government, technology, and regulation couldn’t,” said YouMail CEO Alex Quilici. “However, as social distancing slows down and the economies rev back up, we should expect robocalls to once again increase.”

The YouMail solution 

This free call protection app is available for all mobile phones. YouMail recently won the American Business Awards’ Gold Stevie Award for Technical Innovation of the Year, and was named the nation’s best robocall-blocking solution by Geoffrey Fowler of the Washington Post.

When YouMail catches a robocall, it sends the call straight to voicemail, while silencing your ringer. The automated voicemail plays an out-of-service message that leads them to think they dialed an invalid number. YouMail identifies fraud by using a combination of its recently patented audio fingerprinting technology, call patterns, and consumer feedback.

YouMail provides the YouMail Robocall Index to estimate robocall volume across the country and for specific area codes every month. This estimate is formed by extrapolating from the behavior of the billions of calls YouMail has handled for its users, and these statistics are regularly cited by the FCC as a definitive source for national data trends. 

Steps to avoid robocalls

There are several steps you can take to avoid being scammed by robocalls:

  1. Don’t answer numbers you don’t recognize. If the caller ID says “unknown number” or “telemarketer” or “spam risk”, simply do not answer the phone. If a number pops up that you do not recognize, let it go to voicemail. If you are certain it is a scam, block the number.
  2. Save important phone numbers in your phone. Before you leave somewhere important like the pharmacy or doctor’s office, ask what phone number you can expect if you get a call from them. Save this in your phone so you don’t feel compelled to answer unrecognized numbers. 
  3. Don’t speak. If you answer a call from an unrecognized number, you can test the call by simply not saying anything. If you wait to say “hello” and then a recording starts to play, hang up and block the number. 
  4. Create passwords to protect your voicemail. If you’re able to do so, set up a password for your voicemail. If a robocall spoofs your phone number, the scammer coils potentially hack into your voicemail and steal sensitive information, which may be stored in your messages.  
  5. Just hang up. Some robocallers will end their sales pitch with an option to press a number and or answer “yes” or “no” to a question. This is a trick to con you into accepting future calls. Just hang up.
  6. Don’t trust calls from government agencies. Social Security and Medicare scams are common. If you receive a call from a person or recording claiming to be with Medicare, Social Security, or another government agency, do not believe them. Most government agencies will never contact you by phone, and they certainly will never ask for your personal information over the phone, like your Social Security number or bank account.
  7. Use call-blocking services. Until the law starts to reduce the number of robocalls Americans receive, you can use robocall-blocking services, like YouMail, to block robocalls for you. 

Robocalls are illegal. Report them to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) here or by calling 888-225-5322 and selecting option 4.

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