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Spam robocallers up 56% over previous year

By Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV | Posted - Apr. 21, 2021 at 9:33 a.m.



OREM – If spam calls seem out of control to you, you are far from being alone. Utahns received over 35 million robocalls last month according to the YouMail Robocall Index – that's a robocall every 13.1 seconds.

Spam calls have become so routine for Sandra Mangum, they seem unstoppable. She said gets calls all day, every day from scammers trying every which way to rip her off.

"It was overtaking my whole life to the point that I couldn't decide even to answer the phone," Mangum said.

She said has not fallen for any of those scams but is sick of screening all her calls.

"I'd like to know what can be done about it," said Mangum.

She is far from alone according to cybersecurity expert Alex Hamerstone, who is a risk management director for the firm Trustedsec. Even Hamerstone is not immune from the calls.

"I'm getting about 50 a day," he said.

According to Truecaller, a robocall blocking app that also tracks scam calls all over the world, "The U.S. is now the second most spammed country in the world and has seen a 56% increase of spam calls compared to last year." The No. 2 spot: a significant rise from just last year's rank – 8th.

When it comes to spam calls, Brazil is ranked No. 1, with an increase of 9% compared to last year.

"It's almost the point where we can't even use our phones as phones anymore, because 90% of the calls for a lot of us are just these robocalls," said Hamerstone.

Spam robocallers up 56% over previous year
Photo: KSL TV

There are apps and services that can cut down on unwanted junk calls. And settings on most smartphones that will allow you to only let calls through from numbers that you recognize. Both can be very effective but only if you are OK with missing calls, which not everyone can afford to do.

"I'm in consulting, so I have to answer my phone," Hamerstone said. "I can't ignore my phone when it rings."

Magnum said she is hopeful that eventually technology gets ahead of the bad guys and in the meantime, she hopes those who make their living ripping people off through spam calls, well, "get a life."

"It is taking over my life."

The Federal Trade Commission says the best way to stop the scams is to "hang up." Then report the scam to https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/, so the FTC can work to shut down the numbers from which you were called. But regulators will admit, it is a giant game of whack-a-mole: knock one spam number down and then another pops up.

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Matt Gephardt
Sloan Schrage

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