Cellphone users are expected to have half off their incoming calls coming from robo-callers in 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — If it feels like the only people who ever call you these days are your mother and robocallers, there’s a reason for it.

What’s happening: A new reportreleased by the spam-monitoring service Hiya revealed that roughly 26.3 billion robocalls were placed to U.S. phone numbers in 2018.

  • Hiya analyzed activity from 450,000 users of its app to determine how widespread unwanted robocalling is, according to the Washington Post.
  • Hiya’s analysis found that app users reported an average of 10 unwanted robocalls per month. According to the Washington Post, “many more incoming calls, about 60 on average, were from unrecognized numbers.”
  • According to Hiya’s report, robocalls are up 46 percent since 2017.
  • Only about half of all cellphone calls are being answered.

“As our phones continue to be inundated by robocalls, many people no longer want to pick up the phone at all,” Hiya chief executive Alex Algard told the Washington Post.

This results in missed calls from doctor’s offices, banks, schools and other institutions.

Last year, First Orion released a reportprojecting that nearly half of all cellphone calls in 2019 will come from scammers.

  • In a blog post, Charles Morgan, chief executive and head data scientist of First Orion, called it “the scam call epidemic” and noted that scammers are increasingly invading user privacy at new extremes.

One technique that has become popular among scammers is “Neighborhood Spoofing,” where scammers disguise their phone number so it displays as a local number on caller IDs.

  • Call blocking apps are usually ineffective in detecting spoof calls, as they can only black-list known scam numbers, not legitimate phone numbers, according to First Orion.

Though the Do Not Call Registry was created in 2003 to combat spam calls, the volume of calls has increased significantly in the past few years, according to The Verge.

  • Federal Trade Commission representatives told The Verge last fall that the FTC receives 500,000 complaints a month related to spam-calling.

What’s being done? According to the Washington Post, federal regulators have been cracking down on spam communications, issuing large fines to robocallers illicitly harassing cellphone users and adopting rules to facilitate new robocall combatting technology.

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  • T-Mobile has begun taking anti-spam measures and will soon unroll a new “Caller Verified” message on customers’ phones when they receive calls, according to the Washington Post.

What can you do about it? Beyond registering numbers on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry,you can do a few things too, if not stop calls altogether, slow them down.

  • Block specific numbers on your phone.
  • Visit your carrier’s support page and look for resources that may be available through them.
  • Use a third-party mobile app like Hiya or Nomorobo to block robocalls based on a list of known offenders.