Demand for apps that block spam calls on increase as robocalls become a worldwide epidemic

Aman Jain Aman Jain Dec 07, 2019 Android, Apps, AT&T, iOS

If you think you are getting too many spam calls lately, then you are not alone. The number of spam calls is on the rise globally, and there are numbers to support it. Truecaller, in its report published Tuesday, noted that the spam calls or robocalls have grown by about 18% this year.

Talking of volume numbers, the number of spam calls received by users’ worldwide was about 26 billion between January and October, the Swedish company that tracks spam calls noted. For the same period last year, this number was about 17.7 billion.

Mostly all countries have seen a surge in spam calls. Some countries, however, have recorded a bigger growth than others. For instance, the US witnessed a 35% jump in the robocalls this year, up by 7% from last year. The United States is the eighth-most-spammed country, the same rank as last year.

Top-20-spam-calls-truecaller

Image Source: Truecaller (click/tap to enlarge)

The title for the most-spammed country was once again bagged by Brazil. In the country, spam calls increased from 32% to 48%, in the last twelve months. Others in the list are – Peru at second, Indonesia at third, and Mexico at fourth. In Indonesia, the number of spam calls has doubled in a year. Truecaller said.

These calls are typically seeking to provide special offers and upselling data plans among other services. Scam calls continue to be a big problem in Brazil. Two years ago, only 1% of all the top spammers were scam related, last year it went up to 20% – and this year it is up to 26%

India, where the number of mobile users has skyrocketed in the past decade or so, was at the fifth spot. Last year, India was second in the list. In India, the telemarketers and telecom operator accounted for more than 80% of the spam calls.

Others in the top ten are South Africa, Chile, the US, Russia and Columbia. The phone users not just had to face the spam calls, but spam SMS as well. As per Truecaller, about 8.6 billion spam texts were received by users worldwide this year.

Call from financial companies offering to sell credit cards and loans, accounted for the bulk of the spam calls. In some countries, like South Africa, the spam calls were in the form of fraudulent tech support calls and job offer scams. While in UAE and Brazil, the spam calls are mostly from the telecom operators itself.

Image Source: Truecaller (screenshot)

As per the experts, the robocalls have got smarter and sophisticated with time. Some service providers use spoofing technique to avoid detection and trick you into picking a call, means the number showing on your caller ID will be of a friend or family, but actually, it would be a spam call.

Moreover, the phone numbers that these spam services use are like any regular numbers. This way also, scammers trick users into picking a call. These robocalls deploy auto dialers and recorded messages to make millions of phone calls on a daily basis

What’s surprising is that the number of spam calls is on the rise despite efforts from the authorities and carriers to curb such practices. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has made it mandatory for the carriers to use caller verification to verify the authenticity of a call.

Carries would soon be using a new technology called SHAKEN/STIR. This technology will help to verify if the calls are coming from the source where it claims to be coming from. Also, the technology would speed up the process to trace and report spam calls.

Along with FCC and carriers, the political will is also in favor of ending the robocalls. The US House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday to put an end to the spam calls. The bill called TRACED Act (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act) would address the issue in several ways.

TRACED Act increases the penalty for illegal robocalls, require phone companies to carry proper verification, encourage phone companies to alert users of any spam call and give them the power to block such calls. The legislation also gives more power to the agencies to aggressively take action against the scammers.

Sen. John Thune, who helped lead the bill in the House and Senate, said in a statement;

With House passage of our bipartisan, bicameral legislation to protect consumers from pesky and sometimes financially harmful robocalls, we are one step closer to getting this legislation to the president’s desk

There is, however, still some time before this legislation turns into a law. Until then, users need to take care of the spam calls themselves, and one of the best ways to do is to use apps that block spam calls. Even for non-US users, these apps are an effective tool against spam calls.

Many such apps are available online, such as Nomorobo, Hiya Caller ID and Block, Truecaller and more. Most of these apps that block spam calls offer a free basic version and a paid premium edition ranging from $1 to $3 a month. These apps block spam calls by using a list of blacklisted phone numbers.

Along with the spam calls, these apps that block spam calls could also protect you from spam text messages, work as an ad blocker and assist you in reporting a spam call. Many such apps offer a free trial, as well. Apart from these third-party apps, you can also use a few other methods to get rid of the spam calls.

For instance, both Android and iOS offer built-in features to block specific phone numbers. Phone carriers also have blocking tools that you can make use of, such as AT&T Call Protect, Verizon Call Filter, T-Mobile Scam ID and Scam Block, and My Sprint app. You can register with the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry as well, but it is not a full proof solution.

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Aman Jain

Aman is MBA (Finance) and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. He loves to watch science fiction movies, follow latest tech news, play video games and (ofcourse) cricket.