Ringing off the hook: How new tech is fueling the robocall explosion

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Robocalls have become the No. 1 consumer complaint in America. Americans now get 5.2 billion of them a month -- 2,000 every second. And a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds that new technology is fueling the explosive growth of unwanted calls.

“The cost to place calls, especially international calls targeting the U.S., is almost nothing now,” says cybersecurity expert Scott Schober. “And they bulk it. They buy packages of 10,000 or more and they can dispatch, in one second, thousands of calls.”

LISTEN HERE - Walt Kane's companion podcast on robocalls for News 12 Talks New Jersey:


Two technologies make that possible. Voice-over IP, the technology first seen in voice-messaging apps like Skype, allows scammers, usually located overseas, to make international calls for pennies apiece to thousands of phones at a time. And “spoofing” allows robocallers to disguise their phone numbers, which is why so many now show up on our caller ID as local calls.

Just how easy is it to bombard unsuspecting people with unwanted robocalls? To find out, Kane In Your Corner spoke with Ethan Garr, whose company, Robokiller, makes robocall-blocking technology. Garr filled a table with more than a dozen cellphones, including three supplied by News 12. He then loaded a few lines of computer code into his laptop. With one click, all the phones began vibrating and ringing, as the calls came in simultaneously.

“The telemarketers can do this all day long,” Garr says. “Just one call after another. And it’s costing them either nothing or almost nothing to do.”

This is the first part of a four-part investigation into robocalls that airs this week. Tomorrow: why the federal government has been fighting robocalls for years, but the enforcement efforts don’t seem to be working.

MORE INFORMATION: Monthly robocall stats by region - Youtube Robocall Index

WATCH: Extended Footage - Auto Dialer Demo: Robokiller App

WATCH: Extended Interview on robocalls with Scott Schober, cybersecurity expert and author of 'Hacked Again'

WATCH: Extended Interview with Ethan Garr of RoboKiller, an anti-robocall app

MORE INFORMATION: The TRACE Act, an anti-robocall bill

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