The Federal Trade Commission has published its biennial report to Congress detailing information about the national Do Not Call registry, which now has more than 244 million phone numbers on it, while also revealing that consumers filed more than 5 million complaints during the 2021 fiscal year, with robocalls being the source of the overwhelming number of complaints.
For 2020 and the first three quarters of the 2021 fiscal years, the top five categories of complaints made by consumers to the FTC and Federal Communications Commission were:
- Imposters (calls pretending to be government, businesses, or family and friends)
- Warranties and protection plans
- Reducing debt (credit cards, mortgage, student loans)
- Medical and prescriptions
- Computer and technical support
It is interesting to see how the number of complaints filed by consumers has exploded. The FTC noted that during the fourth quarter of 2009, consumers filed 63,000 complaints per month about illegal robocalls. That figure has quintupled in the ensuing 12 years to more than 300,000 complaints being filed each month about illegal robocalls.
About 3 million new numbers were added to the Do Not Call registry at the end of the 2021 fiscal year — September 30, 2021 for anyone who is curious.
The FTC cited spoofing — faking the Caller ID information on a phone call — as a reason why the number of complaints has increased so significantly. The report also details the ways in which the federal government is combatting this tactic, such as through the TRACED Act and the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN protocols. The FTC also referenced other efforts and initiatives, such as its public challenges to spur private sector development of anti-robocall technology solutions.