Bay Area Blitzed by 878 Million Robocalls in 2018

What to Know

  • California tech firm YouMail tracked 47.8 billion robocalls in 2018

  • More than half of robocalls made to Americans’ phones were scams, spam, and telemarketing

  • Researchers expect robocalls to increase by at least 25% this year

Phones in the San Francisco Bay Area received a record 878 million robocalls in 2018, according to new study released Tuesday.

In data published by YouMail, a telecom analyst based in Irvine, researchers tracked nearly 48 billion auto-dialed calls nationwide last year, which is up almost 57 percent from 2017. 

“It’s astonishing how many robocalls were made nationwide in 2018,” YouMail CEO Alex Quilici said in a news release. “We’re now talking about 150 or more robocalls for every adult in the U.S.”

YouMail’s data show the average person in the Bay Area received about 107 robocalls in 2018, with the number of calls steadily climbing throughout the year.  YouMail says calls peaked in October, when auto-dialers made 92.3 million such calls.

Breaking Down Hundreds of Millions of Robocalls in CA

[BAY] Breaking Down Hundreds of Millions of Robocalls in CA

Many robocalls are legal and even requested by their recipients. Such calls include banking alerts and pharmacy pickup reminders. YouMail says about 44 percent of robocalls fall into this category.

But more than half of robocalls are telemarketing and scams, YouMail’s data show. Researchers say 27 billion calls came from scammers and telemarketers — nearly matching the 30.5 billion robocalls from all sources in 2017.

YouMail found health care and health insurance scams were the most common type of illegal robocall, followed by other financial schemes such as credit cards/interest rates, travel, and taxes/IRS impersonators.

Statewide, Californians received 5.3 billion robocalls in 2018, just behind Texas. YouMail estimates another surge this year, with an estimated 60 to 75 billion calls nationwide. That would be an increase of at least 25 percent over last year.

An NBC Bay Area investigation found nearly half of all calls to mobile phones in 2019 will be scams or spam, but new caller ID authentication technology could help keep those numbers in check.

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