New law targets growing number of Robocalls nationwide

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- "This is an important message regarding your credit card account." That is one of the very typical opening lines that come with the pesky robocalls. The number of calls continues to go up with that trend looking to continue into this year.

Douglas Wood says, "I've had as many as 8 phone calls a day. It just depends. It's either Rachel from credit card services and last week it was a duct work cleaning service." These calls aren't just a nuisance, but are scamming people as well.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, people 60 and older lost the most money to scam and fraud in 2019. Matt Zajechowski of Digital Third Coast says, "Senior citizens 60 and older most almost $300 million in scams and fraud last year. They are the highest demographic hit for robocalls."

Using the YouMail Robocall index, Dennis Horton from the Better Business Bureau says that in January 2020 alone, 14.6 million robocalls were made to the 815 area code and an additional 933,000 to the 779 area code. On average, a person receives 9 robocalls a day. Digital Third Coast also found the following from their recent report​ :

Stephenson County: 234 total robocall complaints, 2 complaints per 100,000 residents and ranks 42 out of 102 Illinois counties.

Winnebago County 3,357 total robocall complaints, 26 complaints per 100,000 resident and ranks 8 out of 102 Illinois counties

Boone County: 389 total robocall complaints, 3 per 100,000 residents
and ranks 26 out of 102 counties.

Robocalls have increased about 14% nationwide since 2015 and Illinois was the 15th hardest hit state in 2019. In total, Illinois residents filed nearly 234,000 robocall complaints or 1,823 per 100,000 residents.

Dennis Horton says, "There's not a lot as individuals that we can do. Hopefully, the new TRACED act will have an impact on the number of calls that we are getting." This law aims to crack down on the scammers, but the BBB says this could take some time."

Horton says, "Will it stop the calls immediately? No. That's because they're going to keep at it until they get caught. While they can be fined $10,000 per call, it's going to take the Federal Trade Commission some doing to get that money out of them."

He also says to go to​ to register a phone number behind a robocall with the Do Not Call Registry. But for people like Douglas Wood, who admits to answering some of the robocalls, he has some simple advice.

Wood says, "Don't answer. If you don't recognize the number, if it's not on your phone list, don't answer."