Cheaper technology, increased robocalls mean more annoyed Minnesotans

If you’re wondering why you’ve received so many of those pesky robocalls on your phone lately, there may be an answer.

According to Telecommunication company YouMail, U.S. phones were blasted with 2.61 billion robocalls in September, more than doubling the total number of estimated monthly robocalls received in September 2015.

Mike Johnson of the Technological Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota says cheap technology that allows scammers to blast out phone calls using fake numbers has contributed to the increase.

“The technology has gotten cheaper, it’s easier to use, it’s easy to spoof the phone number, and have a $900 device to dial your calls,” said Johnson.

When we caught up with Garrett Boman of Duluth he said he had already received three unwanted calls that day.

“They said something about your vehicle warranty has expired, I don’t have a vehicle warranty,” said Boman. “It’s really annoying because I’m trying to do my job and my phones ringing.”

Attorney and cell phone security expert Marshall Tanick says several factors make it hard to find and stop these scammers, starting with the fact that the phony numbers they use make them hard to track.

“They’re very difficult lawsuits and that’s why they’re not brought often,” said Tanick. “Often times, the irresponsible entities engaged in scams are difficult to sue and they don’t have any money even if you go after them.”

The FCC says robocalls are their top consumer complaint.

In August, the commission put out a call to action, resulting in the formation of the Robocall Strike Force. The Strike Force includes representatives from the top phone carriers. It  has been working for two months to develop comprehensive solutions to prevent, detect, and filter unwanted robocalls. The groups next meeting is October 26.

A spokesperson for the Minnesota Attorney General’s office told us that the calls typically originate outside Minnesota.

“When we get complaints, we work with our federal counterparts,” said Ben Wogsland. “The problem is when they take one of them out, ten pop up somewhere else.”