Nine in 10 Americans believe lawmakers should do more to crack down on annoying robocalls, according to a national survey conducted for AARP.
But most people surveyed said they don’t take proactive steps to limit the barrage of these unwanted calls, which according to one estimate reached nearly 48 billion in 2018, a 57 percent jump from a year earlier.
Nearly half of the survey respondents, or 49 percent, estimated they receive seven or more robocalls in a typical week and 11 percent said they had been victimized by a phone scam at some point. Such scams cost U.S. consumers $429 million last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The AARP findings were released Wednesday in a report called “Who’s Really on the Line?”
The survey asked about robocalls and spoofing, which occurs when a bad actor disguises the phone number being used to place a call.
Ninety-seven percent of respondents said they can see the name, phone number or other information about who is calling them on at least one of their phones, but just 35 percent subscribe to a caller ID service on any of their phones.
Most respondents, 71 percent, are aware spoofing happens; they know that when they do not recognize a name or number appearing on their device or on caller ID, the area code or prefix is “not at all likely” or “not very likely” to be authentic.
But if the call appears to arise from a local area code, 59 percent said they would likely answer the call and 44 percent said they would pick up if the area code matched one used by a relative or close friend.
Survey respondents also were given 14 hypothetical, phone-scam scenarios and asked how likely they would be to ask the caller for more information.
The survey found people are more likely to be ensnared by scam pitches involving threatened losses—“You owe unpaid taxes” or “You are facing jail time for missing jury duty”—than those promising rewards—“You’ve won the foreign lottery” or “You qualify for a free vacation.”
More respondents, 51 percent, said they would respond to a negative scenario than the 41 percent who said a positive pitch would prompt them to engage.
Landline-only users rare
People who rely exclusively on landline phones were a minority of those surveyed: only 3 in every 100 people asked.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said they use only mobile phones and 36 percent use both a landline and mobile phone.