In 2003, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) created the National Do Not Call Registry. The purpose of this list was to give people the option to automatically block calls from telemarketers.
Pat Beachy moved to Austin in 1996, as she is someone who signed up for this list. Lately, though, she has been getting all types of robocalls.
“I have like 40 blocked numbers,” Beachy said. “Lately, we’ve been getting phone calls from the Internal Revenue Service. They say there’s a warrant out for your arrest or that you have a court appearance and you need to show up. They say we need to call and follow up with them. None of it is true.”
Kristen Terkelsen also lives in Austin and is on the Do Not Call Registry as well. She has received a similar call -- but from a familiar-looking number.
“Calls will just come through from a 512 area code and we think it’s somebody that we might need to talk to,” Terkelsen said. “I even got a phone call from my own phone number at three in the morning and that’s a little scary. It’s an all-around nuisance not just at home but at work too.”
The ineffectiveness of this list and the familiar-looking robocall phone numbers are interconnected.
While the Do Not Call Registry does in fact block legitimate telemarketers, it was created during a time when technology hadn’t advanced enough for people to create auto-dialing systems like we have now.
Maureen Mahoney is a policy analyst for Consumers Union, a consumers advocacy group. She said technology has made it simple and profitable for people who create these illegal robocall systems -- especially creating them overseas.
“They’re taking advantage of auto-dialers and inexpensive international calling rates to send thousands -- if not millions -- of calls at once to consumers in the hopes of contacting someone and separating them from their money,” Mahoney said. “With how little it costs to send these out, there’s strong financial incentives for scam robocallers to contact consumers.”
With this development, people in America saw the number of fake calls come in at a rapid rate.
The FTC says Americans are bombarded with more than 2.5 billion robocalls a month.
In 2017 alone, more than 7 million people on the Do Not Call Registry filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about robocalls -- almost twice as many complaints the FCC received in 2015 (559,563 of these people were from Texas).
“So many scammers are violating the Do Not Call List and don’t care about it in the first place and are outside the reach of law enforcement,” Mahoney said.