If the increasing flood of robocalls doesn't change, it could mean "the death of the phone call," according to Hiya, a mobile caller identification firm.
Jonathan Nelson, director of product management, told Cheddar Friday that nobody wants to pick up the phone anymore, according to his company's data. Many consumers simply don't answer if they don't recognize the number, which is what Nelson said companies are trying to avoid.
"The industry is really trying to make it so that you do want to answer the phone because the only calls that make your phone ring are ones that might matter to you," Nelson said. "The goal is if we can get these bad actors out, then these calls could be from your doctor, from a bank, or from your school; there's many legitimate reasons to receive a call. The trouble is none of us trust the phone ringing anymore, so we usually just let it go to voicemail. But the hope is to fix that."
According to Hiya's State of the Call report on the first half of 2019, there were 25.3 billion unwanted robocalls placed in the U.S. That's 128 percent higher than the first half of 2018.
For Nelson, the reason for the exponential increase comes down to one thing:
"Money. Right now robocalls are very successful. It's a $9 billion-a-year industry, either for businesses or just simply outright scams. And scammers can get away with it."
Nelson warned that robocallers can impersonate anyone. It's simple for the scammers to change their phone number to look like it's coming from a person's bank, neighbor, or friend. The callers will try to get information such as someone's interests or even credit card number. They can resell those details to businesses, which usually don't know that they came from an illegal source.
Telecom giants and authorities are trying to fight back. Large companies and attorneys general unveiled a pact Thursday promising to take action.
Nelson said he's optimistic that action from the government and telecom companies will be able to curb the robocall epidemic.