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Robocalls to (541) phones up 2 million in 2 months


In October, 14.4 million robocalls were made to phones in the 541 area code. That’s an average of about 10 calls per person, which is just half the national figure.

NewsChannel 21 spoke Friday with Alex Quilici, the CEO of YouMail, a robocall-blocking software company. He defined a robocall as any call that’s dialed automatically. It could be anything from a reminder that your prescription is ready to a scammer. He said about half of robocalls are scams and about 15 percent are telemarketers.

“When we first started measuring them publicly in late 2015, it was around 800 million,” Quilici said. “Now it’s 5.1 billion. So that’s five times the volume of robocalls in three years. That’s an out-of-control epidemic.”

According to YouMail, the numbers of robocalls made in the 541 area code increased by 2 million calls since August.

Quilici said scammers are still getting phone numbers even with systems in place like the “do not call” list. He said the list only works to keep legitimate companies from bothering you — not scammers, and scammers do not typically purchase phone lists. They have their own method for reaching you.

“So the interesting thing is scammers are just dialing for dollars randomly. So it’s possible to take a list of phone numbers or a list of prefixes, go to certain websites, upload some audio, file in a phone number that if someone presses ‘1’ they get connected with that, hit a button and annoy Oregon for a few hundred dollars,” he said.

Quilici also said they don’t have sophisticated lists. They’re just picking an area code and dialing randomly.

There are a few things you can do to slow down, or even stop, robocalls.

1. Don’t answer a call from a number you don’t know, or if it’s an “unknown number.” If it’s a legitimate call, they should leave a message.

2. Don’t call the unknown number back. Do some research online and block the number if needed.

3. If you don’t want to receive the calls in the first place, there’s another step you can take.

“Get robocall blocking protection on your phone,” Quilici suggested. “Download an app, like YouMail or another call-blocking app, that will try and eliminate some of these calls from ever ringing the phone. Or like we do, we play an out-of-service message to make them think that number isn’t worth calling.”

He said he believes that just like you would not have a computer without anti-virus protection, you should not have a phone without call-blocking protection.

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