The phone rings, pauses, and then a recording on the line says: "Hello! This is Rachel at cardholder services," or "This is an important notice about your automobile."
If you're like many Americans, you have probably received a robocall just like these, which have become a scourge for consumers despite increasing efforts to stop them. In May, there were 2.6 billion robocalls, or automatically dialed calls, in the U.S. That amounts to over eight calls a person, according to YouMail, an app designed to stop the pesky calls.
"Anytime you get a robocall in which somebody is trying to sell you a good or service, if you didn't give the caller prior expressed written consent for that call, that call is illegal," Janice Kopec, a staff attorney with the Federal Trade Commission, told CNBC's "On the Money" recently.
The FTC's Do Not Call List was designed to stop telemarketing calls, yet robocalls are on the rise. They were up nearly 5 percent last month, according to YouMail's numbers, despite 226 active numbers registered with the Do Not Call List.
All those unwanted calls have led to a massive surge in complaints. The FTC received nearly 3.5 million robocall complaints in fiscal year 2016, up 60 percent from the year before.
"The 'Do Not Call' registry actually works for legitimate businesses," said Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail. "The problem is all the people who don't respect it, who are the scammers who [couldn't] care less."
Calling for less than a cent
Those scammers use new technology to call you in the hopes you will fall for their scam and hand over money.
"It's super easy to do, it's super cheap, and unfortunately, it works. People fall for the scams enough to make it worthwhile," Quilici said.
The calls are often coming from overseas, where scammers try to stay out of the reach of regulatory authorities, according to the FTC.
"You can make millions of calls from anywhere in the world for a tiny amount of money, literally less than a cent a call," Kopec said.
The Federal Communications Commission, which also regulates calls, received around 200,000 complaints annually. "Unwanted calls — including illegal robocalls and telemarketing calls — are the top consumer complaint the FCC receives each year," the agency said in a statement sent via e-mail.
The government is trying its best to crack down on robocallers, which has proved stubborn to defeat. The FCC is also testing letting phone companies block calls that are likely scams.
"We've brought over 130 law enforcement actions targeting those who send out unlawful calls and illegal calls," Kopec said.
The FTC was awarded a $280 million judgment against Dish Network, a satellite television provider, for Do Not Call List violations, including some robocalls, earlier this month.
"DISH respectfully disagrees with the decision by the Court and will appeal the ruling. … DISH has long taken its compliance with telemarketing laws seriously, has and will continue to maintain rigorous telemarketing compliance policies and procedures," the company said in a statement sent to CNBC via email.