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Americans fed up with robocalls; complaints jump 25% – Reuters

Federal Trade Commission seal is seen at a news conferenceat FTC Headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (Reuters) – Americans were more annoyed by robocalls and other telemarketing calls last year, lodging a 25% increase in complaints with a federal regulator.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday it received more than 5 million complaints about violations of the Do Not Call Registry in the last fiscal year to Sept. 30.

The top complaints included callers pretending to be a government official or family member and calls to offer warranties, protection plans, debt relief or computer technical assistance, the FTC said.

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“Consumer complaints about illegal calls — especially robocalls — have increased significantly,” the agency said.

The 2021 number was up from 4 million in the 2020 fiscal year but slightly less than 5.4 million complaints in 2019, according to FTC data.

More than 2.8 million people added their phone numbers to the Do Not Call list in 2021, bringing the total to 244 million.

The FTC attributed the troublesome calls in part to technology that allows scam artists and telemarketers to conceal their identities or “spoof” the phone number they are calling from.

Automated dialing and recorded or robocalls enable callers to reach large numbers of people easily, and the agency cannot easily track down offenders, it said in the report.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology makes it inexpensive for scam artists to make calls from outside the United States.

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Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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