iPhone Displaying Screen with Unfamiliar Number

Thank the coronavirus for a Drop in Robocalls

I never realized the magnitude of robocalls I got until I started working from home a couple of years ago. I would be sitting in my home office and the landline phone would ring constantly during the day announcing area codes I had never heard of. Even late in the evening and early on weekend mornings I would get these harassing robocalls. I would listen to my talking caller ID  announce strange and unfamiliar numbers. Or my answering machine would leave messages about credit card offers, vacation packages for sale, computer viruses, or my personal favorite the IRS and Social Security needs me to contact them immediately.

At first not understanding how scammy the whole process worked, I would pick up the phone and tell the person to stop calling and take my name and number off their call list.  When that didn’t work, I would press the number that offered a don’t call back option. I later learned that doing those things just made them call you more. The goal of robocalls was to find live numbers of real human beings. By engaging or pressing an option to don’t call me I was signaling that me and my number were real further increasing the opportunity for more calls and more harassment. Now I have stopped doing that but of course, like most people the calls still continued but not at the high volume as before.

I have noticed lately an even deeper decrease in volume of calls. And I can thank the coronavirus. According to YouMail, a technology company that tracks robocalls, during the month of March  there was a drop in calls with 4.1 billion compared to February’s number of 4.8 billion calls. Robocalls typically come from overseas call centers and they have had to close down due to the virus. A lot of these centers lack the infrastructure to protect their workers and practice social distancing. But like here in America, those companies will figure out work from home strategies and we might see an uptick in robocalls again.  If and when the onslaught resumes the calls will center around coronavirus scams and debt collection as millions of Americans are out of work and unable to pay their bills.

The government has been paying attention and making stronger efforts to put things in place to combat the robocall problem. The TRACED  Act was passed last year  allowing people to identify calls to avoid  answering them. Also, in March the FCC said it was abandoning plans for US telecom companies to voluntarily implement methods for reducing robocalls and making it mandatory. They are giving the industry until June 30, 2021, to roll out “Shaken/Stir,” a system that allows companies to verify that a call is from who it says it’s from. This addresses the problem of “spoofing,” which is when a call appears to be legitimate when it isn’t.

The FCC also created a dedicated website  with consumer warnings and safety tips around the coronavirus including info on robocall scams.

I know that these efforts will not completely rid all robocalls but I think it is a step in the right direction. I also know that responding to callers whose numbers you recognize is a good best practice. I am not sure if we will ever be fully rid of robocalls but I do appreciate the fact that my time at home during this pandemic has been a much quieter one.

4 thoughts on “Thank the coronavirus for a Drop in Robocalls

  1. Hi Empish,
    Oh yes, I couldn’t stand it! The majority of our calls on the landline was like that, and then we had more because of the charities that I fund. I hate it when they call me for extra money. The caller acts like he or she understands then pressures me to pay a smaller amount. Now I usually do not answer. I just let it ring. if it bothers me enough I answer it and wait for a click sound.If I hear that, I simply hang up without saying anything.
    Thanks for bringing this subject up.


    1. Amy, it is unfortunate that your heart to give has been used against you in the form of harassing phone calls. I have worked several years in non-profit work and I learned a long time ago to not pester the donor too much because that could impact their giving. But it seems that you have found a solution that is working well and good for you on that account.


  2. I thoroughly HATE robocalls and have a rule where if I don’t recognize the number I simply don’t answer. They were annoying back when I had a landline but I was okay with it because I really wasn’t using it except to screen calls. When they began calling my cell though I was livid because it feels like an invasion of privacy. I know these companies need to make money but there’s got to be a better way where people can subscribe to these calls if they want them.


    1. Yes, I do the same. I know in an update to iOS 13 Apple created in settings some kind of robocall block feature where if the person is not in your contact list they will go straight to voice mail. I don’t think the phone even rings. I am thinking that the android phone would have some similar.

      Liked by 1 person

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