You Can Thank the Coronavirus for Plunge in Robocalls

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.

August 23, 2019

AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and 10 other large phone companies have struck an agreement with 51 attorneys general to enact technology to block robocalls before they reach people.

The deal, announced Thursday, will help protect consumers from receiving illegal robocalls and will assist law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting bad actors, said North Carolina Atty. Gen. Josh Stein, who is leading the effort that includes all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Under the nonbinding deal, the companies will launch the call-blocking technology at no cost to consumers and will make other anti-robocall devices and apps available free of charge to subscribers.

November 9, 2018

The head of the Federal Communications Commission got on his high horse this week and told phone companies they better do something about robocalls. Or else.

“Combating illegal robocalls is our top consumer priority at the FCC,” Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement after submitting letters to leading telecom and tech companies telling them to get with the program…

November 22, 2017

Black Friday is still a couple of days away, but the Trump administration already has handed out gifts to the telecom industry.

The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday took the wraps off its rollback of net neutrality rules, which it will finalize next month and give internet service providers more control over what you see online.

The FCC also passed a new rule on robocalls, which sounds like a good thing for consumers but probably isn’t…

November 8, 2016

The phone industry’s Robocall Strike Force vowed a couple of months ago to deploy its telecom commandos and end the scourge of robocalls once and for all. So how’s that working out?

The strike force met with federal authorities the other day to report on its progress and action plan…