There are 500,000 complaints, every month of Illegal robocalls. Why does it seem to be getting worse?
Our sister station, WUSA9, spoke with a viewer, Christopher Johnson, who contacted the team after being bombarded with robocalls.
“For a while, I've been getting robocalls. Every time I get home I have at least six or seven calls on my machine,” Johnson explained.
Some of those robocalls, even threatening to throw Chris Johnson in jail. The burning question Chris wants answered: is anyone doing anything to really combat robocalls?
Johnson said he calls the FTC tip line to report the robocalls, but gets no feedback.
So the Verify team paid a visit to the FTC, speaking to Do Not Call Program Coordinator, Ian Barlow.
Barlow is one of the many litigators who’s worked on 140 robocall cases. He’s been litigation counsel in four FTC lawsuits against illegal telemarketers and those who assist them. In those four cases, the FTC has sued 17 individuals and 22 businesses.
When asked if we could give reassurance that the government is doing everything they can to get rid of these calls, Barlow said, “we really are working to manage this problem and we hear it from consumers...they call me. I get it. They go to donotcall.gov but they also call me directly. We get it.”
But Johnson said he’s on the 'Do Not Call' list but spammers are still blowing up his phone and its not getting any better.
So the Verify team along with Chris Johnson, paid a visit to a company that is doing something to fight robocalls. Neustar, is a data management and cyber security company in Sterling, Va.
Neustar provides Caller ID services to over 800 carriers and the leading mobile caller ID apps.
Neustar recently teamed up with Verizon on its new SPAM alert feature for landline subscribers to address illegal robocalling on their network.
Neustar’s Vice President of Product Management James Garvert told WUSA9, “It does look like the problem is getting worse....I would actually say the problem is starting to get better.”
Using information the FTC provides to Neustar the company is working to compile a massive list of spam phone numbers and develop call blocking software that filters out those illegal calls.
Then you decide whether or not you actually want to answer the call or not.
The plan is to get rid of illegal robocalls and we the consumer won't have to pay anything to do it.
All of those 500,000 complaints each month get filtered and forwarded to companies like Neustar.
Garvert explained the more you report, the more it’s going to help. Your complaint isn’t just vanishing.
After seeing the work Neustar is doing to combat robocalls, Johnson told Verify he thinks their work is going to help a lot of people.
“They’re not making people aware that they’re actually using what you’re giving them. Maybe if they made it clearer for people they wouldn't be so hot headed about robocalls," Johnson said.
Neustar has done research suggesting that up to 90 percent of legitimate business calls aren't being answered .. because people don't recognize the number and think those calls are spam.
And it's not just Neustar along working to combat robocalls, the FTC and FCC teamed up with companies that showed off technology and innovation working to fight robocalls at an April 2018 expo.
Within the next few weeks, the FTC will issue an annual report about illegal calls and we'll get a better sense of whether or not they think the problem is getting better or worse.