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New legislation introduced to fight robocalls after Americans lost nearly $20 billion to phone scammers in 2020



Americans lost an estimated $19.7 billion dollars to phone scammers last year alone, according to Truecaller Insights, a group that studies robocall trends.

Car warranties. Medical devices. Debt consolidation.

The common bond they share: they are often the carrot dangled during robocalls.

Those persistent, automated calls to our cell phones and landlines are as ubiquitous as they are annoying in American culture.

A nationwide investigation by TEGNA stations across the country – including WBNS-TV’s 10 Investigates unit – found that robocalls are a national nuisance that plague our phone lines and have cost American consumers billions of dollars.

Americans lost an estimated $19.7 billion dollars to phone scammers last year alone, according to Truecaller Insights, a group that studies robocall trends.

What’s more – reigning them in and tracking down those responsible is sometimes difficult for law enforcement as many of the robocalling operations originate overseas, according to interviews TEGNA stations gathered with the states’ attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission.

The good news – new tactics, legislation and regulations are being introduced to abate them.

But the billions of robocalls and consumer complaints far outpace the relatively smaller number of law enforcement investigations aimed at stopping them, 10 Investigates and TEGNA stations found.

According to YouMail, a website that tracks robocalling data and trends, the U.S. received 58 billion calls in 2019. While the calls did fall during the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, they have risen again into 2021 – peaking at nearly 5 billion calls in March.

Ohioans received 186 million robocalls in March 2021 alone, according to YouMail’s data.

Peter Maizitis, of North Royalton, Ohio, has spent years “collecting” robocalls.

“You know that one movie – we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore? It’s like that. I would drop my knife and fork and put in another complaint,” Maizitis said.

Maizitis has filed more than 50 complaints within the past year with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which developed its own robocall unit last March. His fight against them is personal.

To learn more about robocalling victims like Maizitis, how robocalls are being investigated and what you can do to protect yourself, please tune in to our report “Stop the Calls” at 11 p.m. on May 10th, only on WBNS 10TV.

Starting at 5 p.m, that day, you can also take part in a phone bank with consumer protection experts from Attorney General Dave Yost’s office. They will be on hand to take your questions about robocalls or any other consumer challenge you might be facing.




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