Robocalls blew up your phone in 2018

A new report from Hiya shows robocalls rose by 46 percent.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
2 min read

The number of robocalls in the US jumped in 2018.


If you got a call from a number you didn't recognize last year (odds are, you got a few of those), it was likely one of the 26.3 billion robocalls made in the US in 2018, according to a report from Hiya.

That breaks down to an average of 10 monthly calls per person.

Hiya, a caller ID service, published a report Tuesday called Robocall Radar that found robocalls rose 46 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Watch this: How to stop robocalls

That rise happened despite efforts by the Federal Communication Commission and carriers to curb the calls. In November, the FCC made plans to create a database that businesses could use to verify that the numbers they've been given to call haven't actually been reassigned to new people. Also in November, T-Mobile said it had blocked 1 billion scam calls in the previous 18 months. Verizon also said in January that it would give all customers spam-blocking tools for free.

"Unsolicited robocalls are the No. 1 source of consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission. This incessant problem is only getting worse due to a lucrative profit motive for scammers," the report says. 

Hiya also identified cities that get targeted the most. Dallas came in at No. 1, followed by the Texas cities of Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and Houston.

So why is Texas getting hit so heavily? Scammers go after more vulnerable populations, said Jonathan Nelson, director of product management at Hiya, in a statement. For example, US border states and ports of entry get a lot of IRS scams going after people who might have paid taxes for the first time... or haven't paid their taxes at all. Retirees are also in the crosshairs. 

"Texas hits both of those audiences," Nelson said.

First published Jan. 30 at 7:53 a.m. PT.
Update 8:12 a.m. PT: Adds context.
Update Jan., 31 at 6:56 a.m. PT:  Adds comment from Hiya.

Lines of defense: Verizon to extend free robocall, spam and call-blocking tools to all customers.

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