In the News

You Can Thank the Coronavirus for Plunge in Robocalls

Apr 2, 2020 LA Times

Like most of us, Elaine Regus and her husband have adapted to being home most of the day, except for the occasional walk around the neighborhood.

The San Dimas resident told me that in the past, they’d typically find several messages from robocallers awaiting them any time they returned home.

“These days, nothing,” said Regus, 68. “We’re wondering what happened.”

What happened is there’s finally something good to say about the otherwise rotten coronavirus pandemic.

The volume of robocalls nationwide has plunged as overseas call centers have closed for lockdowns and social distancing, according to YouMail, an Irvine tech company that tracks robocall volume on a monthly basis.

Robocalls are automated, of course, but the most annoying ones often try to connect you with a live operator to close the deal, such as signing you up for a high-interest credit card or, worse, committing some act of fraud.

With call centers in India, the Philippines and elsewhere shut down for the coronavirus, many of these scammy companies have simply stopped making calls.

“The pandemic is disrupting everything,” said Alex Quilici, chief executive of YouMail. “So you can say this is a benefit of the coronavirus.”

He told me that about 4.1 billion robocalls were received by U.S. households in March — more than 132 million a day.

That might sound like a lot — and it is — but it’s 700 million fewer than the 4.8 billion robocalls logged in February, and way less than the record 5.7 billion registered in October.