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The Nuisance Call Problem

Robocall Volumes

Unidentified numbers showing up on consumer phones are now considered spam – it’s that simple. No one trusts an unidentified call anymore, and rightfully so.

Let’s take a look at some numbers that show how robodialing has become an epidemic in the communications space. (For simplicity, these types of calls will collectively be referred to as nuisance calls.)

According to YouMail, the volume of nuisance calls continues to climb and has risen to nearly 60 billion calls in 2019 alone. To put this in perspective, this represents over 160.5 million calls per day, that’s nearly 3,000 calls per second 1. Looking at some other familiar metrics for 2019, these volumes represent 456 calls per U.S. household and 129 calls to each U.S. telephone number.

Nuisance calls remain the #1 source of consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Of the complaints received by the FCC since 2015, most types have decreased except for one: Nuisance calls - These increased by 35%. During this timeframe, nuisance call complaints accounted for more than all other categories combined. In 2018, the FCC cited over 232,000 complaints about nuisance calls and in response, brought a handful of individuals to court.

One of the cases which resulted in penalties was against a scammer who generated over 96 million spoofed robocalls over a three-month period falsely claiming to be from well-known travel or hospitality companies. Another case involved an individual who conducted a large-scale, spoofed, robocalling campaign, marketing insurance to vulnerable populations. In both cases, the illegal calls not only disturbed and inconvenienced consumers, but also disrupted the operation of an emergency medical paging service. Because of these and similar cases, the FCC levied nearly $246 million in penalties against nuisance call violators over the past eight years. However, these efforts have done little to curb the deluge of nuisance calls, and robo dialing has remained lucrative for bad actors.

Because of the growing volume of nuisance calls, it has become increasingly difficult for everyday consumers to separate valuable calls from spam. Given the rise in robocalls, it’s no surprise that consumers aren’t answering the phone. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, 70 percent of U.S. consumers won’t answer the phone if they don’t recognize the caller’s number. This figure aligns with other sources that put the number around 63 percent. It’s a troubling reality for enterprises and consumers when around two-thirds of all calls remain unanswered.

These issues have received attention from legislators, communications service providers, and enterprises alike. Thankfully, recent efforts to reduce these nuisance calls provide hope to the industry. Several of these key initiatives will be covered in subsequent blog posts, such as the recently enacted TRACED Act, the ongoing implementation of STIR/SHAKEN, and how Telo is delivering advanced technologies to support these aims.


1 Assuming calling is done during 15 hours of the day


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