Over the past two years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has increased its efforts to prevent unwanted robocalls and robotexts. Despite these efforts, the incidence of unwanted spam calls and texts continues to rise; the United States experienced a total of 55 billion robocalls in 2023–a 10% increase from 2022. The robotext figures look even worse, with Americans receiving over 160 billion spam texts in 2023, including a whopping 19 billion in December alone.

While the advent of AI unlocked tremendous productivity for the business world, it also assisted nefarious spam callers. These bad actors often used AI technology in 2023 to spoof calls and texts, adopting a fake identity and even cloning a fake voice, to sound convincing.

In 2022, the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission made great progress in enforcing ground rules for IP providers to follow STIR/SHAKEN rules. These rules require IP and telephony providers to identify a caller’s identity. Still, in 2023, spam calls remained a problem–so the FTC sent warning letters to several IP gateway providers that had allowed this illegal data to reach innocent recipients.

Let’s examine the current landscape of robocalls and robotexts as we head into 2024:


Progress with Tier 1 Carriers

In its 2024 Robocall Investigation Report, Transaction Network Services (TNS) announced that STIR/SHAKEN efforts have been successful to an extent. According to the report, 85% of phone calls between tier-1 carriers (like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T) were signed in 2023. Only 15% of 2023 calls on these networks came from unidentified numbers.

While this progress is encouraging, smaller carriers don’t show the same results: just 17% of calls from tier-1 carriers to smaller-tier providers had signatures. Denny Randolph, president of the TNS Communications Market, said the following about the discrepancy:

“Our report acknowledges that smaller carriers are benefiting from their deployments of the framework at a slower rate. To ensure the full benefits of STIR/SHAKEN are realized requires strategic investments in network transformation to improve IP connectivity.”

As we move forward into 2024, TNS, the FCC, and the FTC will seek to provide smaller network providers with more adequate resources to enact STIR/SHAKEN methodology to increase the percentage of identified calls.


FTC Increasing Efforts Against Spam Calls

Alarmed by the rate at which these numbers are climbing, the FCC took action in 2023 to mitigate illegal spam texts. The organization corresponded with the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) to take action against IP (VoIP) providers. According to the FTC chair in a news report, these providers “knowingly enable these scammers, allowing robocalls to proliferate on a massive scale.” 

The news report states that the FTC sent warning letters to seven IP gateway providers in November 2023. The warning reminded these providers that enabling unwanted robocall and robotext data on their data networks is illegal, and that the IP providers would face fines if they didn’t follow proper STIR/SHAKEN protocols. 

The same FCC news report announces that the warning was successful, sharing that we’ve already seen a downward trend since November in telemarketing calls from these providers:

“According to USTelecom’s Industry Traceback Group, there has been a downward trend in tracebacks related to traffic entering the U.S. network through these providers.”


AI: A Double-Edged Sword

In 2023, AI made its presence known in the world of VoIP telephony and call center software. Many companies began using AI to automate conversations with customers, both over the phone and via SMS. However, mischievous actors also began using artificial intelligence to automate and spoof calls or texts.

Some fraudulent actors used AI to clone familiar voices in attempts to manipulate innocent call recipients into providing sensitive information. 

To combat these efforts, the FCC now seeks to make AI-generated robocalls illegal. Further, advancements in AI technology, such as those in TNS’ AI Labs initiative, offer tools like predictive analytics and voice biometrics that can help detect and prevent robocalls and spam texts. 

Expect AI to play a role on both sides of spam calls in 2024, posing a threat in nefarious hands but offering a solution in the right ones.


What to Do If Scammed by a RoboCall

Paired with various government-sponsored mitigation efforts: several apps and other tools attempt to warn those most susceptible to falling victim to scam calls and texts.

According to TrueCaller–an app that helps its users reduce their risk of scams–as many as 68 million Americans, or 26%, report having lost money from phone scams. And as many as 1 in 3 Americans, or 33%, report falling victim to phone scams–while 20% report falling victim more than once.

TrueCaller in its report, noted after being scammed, folks did take measures to ensure it did not happen again. Most people downloaded a spam blocker/caller ID app, while others canceled credit card(s), charged, checked phone bills, and contacted mobile carriers.

There is plenty more one can do: such as reporting that number to the Federal Trade Commission FTC (and) placing yourself on the "do not call" list. These measures, while simple, may help to reduce your risk of being contacted again.

While they do not 100% reduce that risk, the chances are far slimmer of being contacted by the same bad actor after doing so. Most importantly, don't give scammers the satisfaction–ensure you hang up or don't even answer these kinds of calls, something that becomes simpler with the aid of some of the apps listed below. 

Finally, other apps, similar to TureCaller can do wonders; and can alarm you of the probability of a scam. Whosecall, Hiya, Call Control, Eyecon, Drupe, and Should I Answer: all attempt to pull off this feat; and are mostly free. For more advanced features in the apps you likely need a subscription–but for simple spam identification, well, those are primarily free capabilities. 

With scammers becoming more creative: it's best to stop it before it becomes a possibility (of being) scammed. So downloading such an app can do wonders, especially if you have elderly parents or (if you have) family members who merely feel more susceptible to getting scammed; become solid tools in a toolbox designed for combating robocalls.