Robocalls are having a resurgence in the U.S. after declining during the peak months of COVID-19. According to voicemail software company Youmail, robocalls reached a height of nearly 5 billion calls for the month of February before falling to less than 3 billion in the country for March and April. Now, data shows an uptick in robocalls, trending upward to nearly 4 billion as of July.
The Wall Street Journal reports that small phone carriers that help relay calls to larger carriers can be susceptible to allowing more scam robocalls. The business model of little-known carriers that act as conduits in the U.S. telecom system facilitates a surge of imposter calls. In 2019, at least $38 million was stolen from consumers through Social Security scams and other robocalls. Owners of these small carriers also make substantial profits from these robocalls, with small increments earned from each robocall adding up to millions in a year.
Robocalls normally originate overseas. A scammer initiates a call which is forwarded to the U.S. from an overseas carrier. The small U.S. carrier receives the call and acts as an intermediary before passing the call to a larger U.S. carrier and ultimately being sent to the customer.
Large carriers have introduced anti-spam and anti-robocall services, however many are finding that spam calls are still getting through. While there’s a brand perception incentive for carriers to limit robocalls, these large companies also make money off of spam calls.