The Federal Trade Commission released its biennial report to Congress on the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry on Monday and the data shows that robocalls and spammers were major irritation for people in 2023.
According to the report, the Commission received more than two million Do Not Call complaints — a majority of which were about robocalls — during the 2023 fiscal year — an increase of more than 2.8 million from the 2022 fiscal year.
Over the last two years, more than 249 million people have added their phone number to the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry, a program that removes a user’s phone number from most legal telemarketer lists. This represents an increase from the 246.8 million registered numbers reported at the end of 2022.
In addition, businesses and other entities collectively paid more than $14.9 million in Registry access fees — an increase from $14.3 million in 2022, according to the report.
This data comes as the FTC, the Federal Communications Commission, and other government agencies have been waging a seemingly unending war against illegal telemarketing schemes. Despite crackdowns, legislation, and new rules, the ever-evolving nature of technology has made scammers more challenging than ever to stop.
Robocalls and imposter calls — prerecorded messages and calls from someone impersonating a business or agency, respectively — are more than just a minor irritation. Both types of calls designed to dupe people into divulging personal or sensitive information. In 2022, scammers tricked Americans out of $39 billion.
It remains to be seen if meaningful change will come in the fight against robocalls in 2024, but in the meantime, there are ways to keep yourself safe.
For example, your phone might include a feature that can detect suspected spam calls — which is a great first line of defense.
In addition, if you get a call — or text or email — about one of your accounts or subscriptions, double check the company’s official website. Sometimes scammers can pose as customer representatives to steal your credit card information.
It’s also beneficial to familiarize yourself with phishing scams. Bad actors will use email or text messages with cleverly worded requests designed to get you to respond with your personal information. These messages often try to convince you that your payment method failed or your account is compromised — an ask you to click a link to fix it.
Do not click the link — even if it sounds urgent.
If you think you’ve been targeted by a scam, you can report it to the FCC or file an informal complaint.