Many of us will pick up the phone on Sunday, May 13, to make sure we let Mom know how much she means to us. Theres a phone call nearly everyone can get behind.

Another kind of phone call isnt nearly so popular. Complaints about unwanted calls, many of them robocalls – prerecorded messages generally seeking something, usually money, from the recipient.

On Friday, May 11, the Federal Communications Commission imposed a record high $120 million fine on a Miami man, Adrian Abramovich, for setting up a program that made nearly 100 million robocalls in 2015 and 2016.

Have you put your phone on the Do Not Call Registry, but still receive a lot of unwanted calls? There are several reasons for this:

1. Robocalls: In each month of 2016, an estimated 2.4 billion robocalls were made. Robocalls that try to sell you something are illegal unless you have given written permission to the company doing the selling.

2. Policing: The Federal Trade Commission has caught and fined many people such as Abramovich, but its enforcement capabilities are akin to trying to stop a mosquito infestation with a pair of tweezers. Robocallers can use internet technology from anywhere in the world.

3. Some calls are allowed: Not all recorded messages are illegal.

Robocalls that are allowed include those from:

Political parties

Health care providers or pharmacies



And those sent in the case of emergencies, such as Amber Alerts.

Robocalls by month

In billions, from June 2016 to November 2017

What to do when you receive a robocall

Dont answer, and let callers leave a message.

Hang up and dont press any numbers –youll just get more calls.

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Notify your phone provider or the FTC. Some phone companies might charge a fee to block calls. You can ask them not to.

Register any new phone on the Do Not Call Registry,, or 888-382-1222, and double check to make sure your number is on it.

Most phone calls stop after 31 days of registering.

Who complains the most?

Average for complaints in the U.S., according to the Federal Communications Commission:

California had the 26th most complaints per 100,000 people, 2,101, and was below average for the number of Do No Call Registry registrations, placing 42nd.

Complaints from Californians to the FTC have increased by more than 300,000 a year since 2013.

Topics about which callers complain

Complaints to the FTC in thousands by topic for 2017

Opinions on calls

A 2017 survey of 1,000 cellphone users by communications company First Orion found the following:

Will things change?

The FTC is seeking technological solutions to the problem. In 2016, a 60-day robocall strike force convened. A Do Not Originate Registry was tested that attempted to block fraudulent calls before they could reach a consumer.

The trial was considered successful after it reduced calls associated with one particular scam by about 90 percent. The FTC has not implemented the program nationwide.

The Congressional Research Service issued a report on protecting consumers and businesses from robocalls on Jan. 5.

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