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Who is behind all the robocalls to your phone?

Published: Tuesday, February 07, 2017 @ 5:28 PM

Annoying robocalls

Your phone rings and you don't recognize the area code. When you do answer, the person on the other end of the line is not a real person at all. 

"They continue to call and it's different numbers," said Melanie Simpson of Kettering.  

"As soon as I figure out it's a robocall, I hang up," said Dave Long of Tipp City.  

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Robocallers made 8.6 million calls to the "937" area code in the month of December alone- an average of 6.2 calls per person, according to a study by YouMail, a voicemail and call managing service.  

WATCH: Facts about robocalls you might not know

We searched YouMail's list of robocallers to our area and found the worst offenders- number one is Capital One Bank Debt Collection.  

"Debt collectors, market research, political advertising and things like that are perfectly legal," said Randy Sparks, a Professor of Marketing at the University of Dayton.  

Melanie Simpson describes getting robocalls.

A company called American Medical is number two on the list of most robocalls and Time Warner Cable is number three. 

A statement from Time Warner said, "The vast majority of these calls are made to confirm schedule appointments and to notify customers that a technician is en route."  

Rounding out the top ten robocallers in our area scammers, spammers, and unknown callers, Chase Bank Debt Collection, and finally a spammer from the 704 area code, according to the study.  

Americans were hit by an estimated 2.37 billion robocalls in November of 2016 - a 141 percent increase from November of 2015, according to YouMail.  

WATCH: One woman responds to the amount of robocalls she gets every day

The calls keep coming because robocalling is easy and inexpensive, said Sparks.  

"It's very cheap. In fact, robocalling is a highly cost effective way to reaching people," said Sparks. "The success rate may be lower, but the cost per call goes down so much that it justifies the use of a robot as opposed to a person."  

Robocallers target people that many of us might consider vulnerable to such tactics like the elderly, bereaved, or mentally challenged, according to Sparks.  

"Many of the marketers that are drawn to robocalling as a strategy for promoting their product recognize that they are attracting a vulnerable audience and as a result sometimes the things that they are promoting can be a little sketchy," Sparks said.

Our viewers responded to our Facebook and Twitter polls. According to the polls, most people get 1-5 robocalls a day.

There are ways to stop at least some of the calls, according to the Federal Trade Commission:

 - Do not answer the phone if you don't recognize the number calling you.

- Do not respond to the robocall voice prompts verbally or by pressing any buttons. 

-  Block each number individually on your smartphone. 

- Contact your phone provider to see if they can block numbers for you. 

- Sign up for the "Do Not Call" registry at www.donotcall.gov 

If you continue to receive robocalls- file a complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov