DANVILLE, Ind. – The Federal Communications Commission admits the amount of robocalls and scam text messages increased throughout the pandemic.
According to third-party websites like the YouMail Robocall Index, there were 4.1 billion fraudulent calls placed in August 2021 alone. That comes out to about 130.9 million calls placed per day.
“They want to talk to me about my unemployment benefits or they want to talk to me about what else they can get me for Medicare,” Nora Murdock said. “It’s always, ‘we have something for you.’”
Reported robocalls in Indiana by category
Murdock called CBS4, frustrated, after she said she received 25 fraudulent calls in one day.
“I was in the middle of trying to do something and every time I got right into it, I’d get another call,” she complained. “And they’re rude!”
Because she often goes to the doctor and was planning a vacation, Murdock felt forced to answer the phone calls. She never knew if it was a call she needed to take.
“I go from frustrated to furious,” she said.
Murdock scrolled through her received calls. She showed CBS4 that most of the phone calls came from random locations like Deport, Texas, Marshfield, Massachusetts and simply “United States.”
Billy Jones said he, too, receives about 25 calls per day.
“As soon as I go to asking them questions, they hang up,” he said. “It’s really crazy. I don’t know what to do about it.”
Cybersecurity experts like Professor Scott Shackelford insist people should not provide their personal information over the phone, nor should they click on suspicious links.
How to report the scam texts and calls:
- Register your phone number with both the national and state “Do not call” lists
- Check to see if your wireless carrier has a call-filter app
- Use third-party call blocking apps (but keep in mind, scammers can use new numbers to try and get around that)
- Forward suspicious text messages to 7726 (which spells out SPAM)
- Make sure your cell phone’s operating system is set to automatic updates
“These days, there is something even called zero click malware. Even just by receiving a text message, even if you don’t open it or click on anything, your phone or personal device could still be infected as a result,” Shackelford warned.
The FCC wasn’t willing to do an interview with CBS4 about this ongoing problem, but confirmed there were likely more scam texts because call centers nationwide shut down as a result of the pandemic.
“A text message scam campaign can be operated by a single individual using a computer, whereas phone call-based scam campaigns rely on a staffed call center to swindle consumers. Additionally, it may be that as more consumers chose not to answer calls from numbers they don’t recognize, scammers are looking for other ways to reach their targets. A text will get the message in front of the consumer, where a call may increasingly go unanswered,” a spokesperson emailed.
The FCC told CBS4 cracking down on robocalls and suspicious texts “remains a priority.”
Indiana’s attorney general’s office said it is currently leading a group of eight states to sue a robocall operation in Texas. Agents said it was responsible for sending more than a billion robocalls last year.