WASHINGTON DC – Michigan residents received more than 793 million robocalls in 2017, contends a new report from the National Consumer Law Center.

According to the YouMail Robocall Index, which tracks the volume and extent of robocalls in the United States, more than 793,516,000 robocalls were made to Michigan area codes in 2017.

The industry data comes ahead of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) March 23 policy forum, “Fighting the Scourge of Illegal Robocalls.”  Both agencies have taken a strong stance against scam and spoofed number robocalls but have been softer on legitimate businesses making illegal calls to cell phones and without consent. In February of this year, Capital One and Chase were among the top generators of robocalls to Michigan numbers.

“This data illustrates a rapid expansion of the use of robocall technology and the toll these abusive calls take on consumers,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel at the National Consumer Law Center.

Earlier this year, the FTC’s “Biennial Report to Congress” revealed a sizeable uptick in consumer complaints about robocalls in 2017, with 4.5 million complaints filed in 2017 compared to 3.4 million in 2016. More than 265,000 Michigan residents complained to the FTC about robocalls and other violations of the “Do Not Call Registry” in 2017.

“Critics seeking to gut the TCPA’s protections against robocalls claim the law leads to frivolous lawsuits,” said Saunders. “On the contrary, the overwhelming number of robocall violations go unchecked, with even the most conservative estimates showing a 1000-to-1 ratio of complaints to government agencies as compared to lawsuits filed. And that does not even account for the tens of millions of illegal robocalls to consumers who do not file complaints or lawsuits.”

Even as robocall complaints increase and TCPA lawsuits decline (there was a 10% reduction in 2017 from the previous year), banks and other companies, backed by industry lobbyists, are continuing to petition the FCC for exemptions to this key consumer privacy law.   

“Rather than petition the FCC for exemptions that weaken robocall protections, companies should focus on following the rules,” said Saunders. “We hope that this FCC will protect consumers against these illegal calls. Maintaining a strong TCPA will benefit consumers and level the playing field for law-abiding businesses.”