Mainers get record number of robocalls; here's why Do Not Call List isn't stopping them

    93 million robocalls were placed to Maine phones in 2018 (WGME)

    STATEWIDE (WGME) -- A record-number 93 million robocalls were placed to Maine last year, according to new data from call blocking company YouMail.

    That's about 73 calls to every person in our state.

    It's an annoying problem that keeps getting worse.

    Because he gets 15 to 20 unwanted calls a day, Tim Ryan of Lisbon said it's not even worth it to answer his phone anymore. He just keeps it on silent.

    "It's either how to reduce my student loan, I haven't been in college for 30 years, or there's nothing there," Ryan said.

    His number is on the Do Not Call Registry, but his phone keeps ringing.

    The Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call List has been around for 15 years.

    The agency said it has more than a million active registrations in Maine, one of the highest in the country, and the list has successfully stopped unwanted calls by most legitimate telemarketers.

    But it doesn't stop political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, informational calls and telephone survey calls.

    "There's no shortage of adjectives to describe the detested robocalls that batter our phones and mobile devices," said the FTC's Lois Greisman.

    The FTC said it's also seeing a significant increase in the number of illegal robocalls from scammers who just don't care about the registry.

    It's now cheap and easy to make calls from anywhere in the world and display fake caller id information.

    One report estimates half of the calls you get on your cell phone this year will be scams trying to steal your money and personal information.

    Phone carriers and regulators are under growing pressure to fix the problem.

    "There is counter-technology, and I find the lack of progress in this area to be very troubling," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) during a recent senate hearing.

    The FCC is now demanding companies meet new standards known as SHAKE/STIR.

    It's a complicated process, but the result is a sort-of digital fingerprint, to show that the people making and receiving the calls are real.

    T-Mobile is the first to roll out the new technology and launched it this month.

    Until this technology is more widely available, here are some things you can try to reduce robocalls:

    • Don't answer the phone if you don't recognize the number
    • Hang up if you do answer an unwanted call. Don't talk to them or press any buttons; it will just generate more calls
    • Look into call-blocking apps. They won't stop all robocalls, but they'll help

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