After spending most of the last year and a half tracking COVID trends in the news like an entire nation of board-certified epidemiologists, we’ve all become quite familiar with the ever-fluctuating state of data. The numbers go up and down, and we all search for plausible reasons for the spikes and declines. As we dig deeper, we uncover a myriad of variables that likely figure in: the tightening or easing of mask mandates, holiday gatherings, business openings and closures — the possibilities go on and on. Similarly, the latest data on robocalls shows us a 10 percent drop in April, which begs the question: why did the currents shift? The most likely answer is that April was more of a whirl in the wave than a total change in tide.

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To grasp the trends, look no further than our very own YouMail Robocall Index. The first thing you’ll see on the page is the latest month’s data: total robocalls placed and what that breaks down to per day, per hour, per second, and per person. Below those numbers, a graph visually depicts the robocall totals for each of the last 12 months.

As of April 2021, we can see that the number of robocalls has been steadily rising since May of 2020. If you navigate to the box below the graph (“Search by City, Area Code, or State”) and dial back the drop-down menu to, say, January 2021, you will see how there was a precipitous fall in robocalls in April of 2020 (to about 2.8 billion robocalls), which so happened to coincide with the beginning of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders. We see that beginning the very next month (May of 2020), just as people began to adapt to pandemic life, so too did robocallers. From that month on, robocalls steadily rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Navigate the graph back to April 2020, and you can see that robocalls peaked in October of 2019 at approximately 5.6 billion calls. That’s also our six-year peak ever since we began reporting this data.

Robocall Blocker

To recap: we saw the most robocalls on record in October 2019 at 5.6 billion calls, then experienced a “crash” in April 2020 to 2.8 billion calls, returned to a nearly pre-pandemic level of 4.9 billion calls in March 2021, but then saw a 10 percent dip in our latest April 2021 pull of 4.4 billion calls last month.

Does this mean we are headed for another crash? Is there a related reason that as the nation becomes more vaccinated, the number of robocalls will dip too? In short, unfortunately, April was probably just a blip in the radar.

Zooming Out on the Data Trends

You might recall linear regression in high school math; it was the one where a graphing calculator was required. Much like in economics, when we look at the data mapped out on a graph, if we zoom in, there are likely to be small ebbs and flows where it looks like the data is all over the place. However, when we zoom out, those micro trends begin to fade away in favor of more long-term movement. That’s why real estate has generally been considered a good investment: in the aggregate over time, linear regression shows that the value of your house steadily rises over time, despite the occasional recession dip and bull market spike.

Translated to our robocall graph, the data trends over the last year tell us that the numbers are on the rise. A relatively small one-month blip does not in itself reset our expectations. In fact, you may notice that there was another similar dip back in November 2020 (from 4.2 billion calls in October 2020 to 3.8 billion a month later). However, after the dip all the way to March 2021, linear regression held strong as the numbers steadily rose again.

Robocall Mitigation Programs and the Ongoing Struggle of Containing Robocalls

Anecdotally, the FCC recently issued two cease-and-desist letters to call carriers that allowed illegal robocall campaigns to be carried out on their networks. The action puts VaultTel Solutions and Prestige DR VoIP in hot water; remember that the FCC fined two Texas-based telemarketers $225 million for robocall violations last year.

Now with the STIR/SHAKEN mandate upon us (June 30, 2021), it is more important than ever for call carriers to have their ducks in a row, whether that be through strict compliance or by gaining an extension using a robocall mitigation program. Whichever path you choose, YouMail can assist. We’ve covered what carriers need to do to comply with TRACED Act regulations before, and our experts are standing by to help you stay compliant.

And remember, the data tells us the nuisance of robocalls isn’t going away on its own, not by a long shot. Even in that “crash” in April 2020, the nation still received a whopping 2.8 billion robocalls. 38% of those were scam calls. That’s 10.6 million calls made to consumers with the intent to defraud them. And that was the “low” of the year.

So call carriers be warned, if you haven’t taken action yet, the FCC is going to have a bone to pick with you.

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