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Coronavirus Slows Dreaded Robocalls

By Fabrice Pierre-Toussaint

Staff Writer for Telegraph Local | See my LinkedIn

Americans received 2.9 billion robocalls in the month of April, according to data collected by YouMail, a robocall blocking company. That’s about half the 5.6 billion automated calls that rang phones in October 2019. We all can thank the current global pandemic for that curb.

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“Call centers around the globe have either shut down or gone to far fewer employees in the call center at one time because of social distancing,” said Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail.

According to NBC Chicago, Chicago still ranks as the 5th most robocalled city in the U.S. 773 and 708 area codes which received 21 million and 13.1 million automated calls in April respectively, had by far the most, but those numbers reflect a huge decline from just two months ago.

 Quilici however said he doesn’t expect this to last.

“We’re already seeing evidence that calls are creeping back up. We’re seeing the call centers start to distribute, so people are working from home,” Quilici said.

The downturn of robocalls during the pandemic comes with an uptick of coronavirus scam calls, Quilici said.

“One of the ones we saw recently creep up was an electric bill scam that said because of COVID-19, you’re eligible for a 50 percent discount on your electric bill,” Quilici said. “It’s basically identity theft and financial fraud happening to people who are desperate to try to save some money now.”

The FCC however put out rules that consumers may get some relief from robocalls. The FCC will no longer warn the worst robocall offenders before issuing fines. 

“Now, as soon as the FCC collects information, it can basically put out a fine for the robocall without having to go to this sort of warning or yellow card kind of behavior first,” Quilici said. “It’s great because it allows the FCC to move a lot faster.”

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Experts recommend installing a robocall blocking app to your phone, which tells scammers that your number is a deadline. Consumers should also not pick up or return calls to an unknown number.

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