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  • Connor Lounsbury

How Robocallers Make Money

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

by Connor Lounsbury | June 1, 2021


Many people have fallen victim to robocallers across the United States. I usually get at least one or two a day. We will go into how robocallers make money, how to prevent them, what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is doing to help, and how to potentially profit from them.

The way robocallers make money off the estimated 46 billion robocalls that went out in 2020 is actually not as common knowledge as you may think. Some calls may be calling with a direct scam that asks for information that should remain enigma to the scam caller. Then there are some calls that do not necessarily have a purpose. Calls such as the speaker telling you a bunch of information that to a degree does not have a gimmick to it or that does not have anyone speaking are examples of this.

Even if you do not pick up the phone, this does not matter to robocallers. They still get paid. The following list is how robocallers make their money:

  • A number dealer, someone with a large amount of telephone numbers, will sell them to robocallers.

  • Call centers, or centralized offices that dispatch the calls, are then used to make the calls.

  • The phone provider of the recipient of the call will query a database, or request for data, in order to ascertain who is calling.

  • The phone provider will pay $0.003 to the database per call or $3,000 per one million phone calls dispatched.

  • The database will take a cut of the profit, then pay the number dealer $0.0024 per call or $2,400 per one million phone calls.

  • The number dealer will take a cut of the profit, then pass the robocaller a scanty $0.00096 or $960 per one million phone calls.

These robocallers are earning fractions of pennies per call, but with the estimated 46 billion robocalls alone in 2020, this would have produced about $138,000,000. This does not include the amount of money robocalls and scam callers make from obtaining personal information such as a debit/credit card number, or from other types of scams. Money paid may vary. These are only estimates.

Now that you know how they make money, let's get into what you can do to prevent robocalls. The following list are the most important things you can be doing to fight against robocalls:

  • Do not answer the phone. Allow the robocallers to believe you do not pick up the phone. If you pick up, this guarantees you as a target for them.

  • Be aware of spoofers. Even if the number is local, it may be a robocaller using a spoofer to fake their location.

  • Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry.

  • File a complaint with the FCC.

  • Download an app that enables you to block robocalls.

  • Call your phone provider. They may offer something to help avert robocallers.

By doing all of these things, you may minimize the amount of robocalls you receive on a daily basis. With that said, we can take a look at what the FCC is doing to help people like us who receive these calls. Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is taking action against robocallers. She is imposing the largest fine in FCC history to Texas telemarketers for illegally making one billion robocalls attempting to sell health insurance. The hefty price of this fine is $225,000,000.

There will be cease-and-desist letters sent to six different voice providers who have consistently broke FCC guidelines. These providers are RSCom, Stratics Networks, Yodel Technologies, Icon Global, IDT Corporation, and Third Rock Telecom. On top of this, the creation of a Robocall Response Team will consist of 51 FCC members spread across six different bureaus. They will be combating robocallers to help reduce the amount of robocalls across the United States.

Now for the best part, how you can possibly make money from these robocallers. I will say, it is most likely a little difficult and I have not tried this myself. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), they add limitations to unsolicited phone calls to your landline. It also completely bans all autodialed and prerecorded messages on cell phones. If you get a robocall, in order to sue the telemarketer you must prove:

  1. They are trying to sell you something.

  2. The call is not for fundraising purposes.

  3. The call is not political.

  4. In the past, you have specifically requested to be added to their do-not-call list.

  5. You have received one more call after being added to their do-not-call list. They can "accidentally" call you once while you are on the list.

  6. There is no past business relationship with the company calling.

  7. Both you and the caller are in the United States.

If you are able to prove all this, usually when you sue the telemarketer, they will settle and pay a fine. You can also install the app DoNotPay and they offer a robocall law service which may prove to payout. If you would like me to review this application and give a description on how it works, leave a comment below!

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