Phone spam is a major problem. So big, in fact, that Americans are collectively fending off over 3 billion spam calls per month. My colleague has also written about his spam call problem with eye-opening data visualizations that highlight how the issue plagues his own phone.
His situation is likely reflective of what many American, Canadian, and UK residents are also experiencing, given the phone spam problem extends beyond just the US and beyond just one man. With phone spam receiving increasing scrutiny, it should come as no surprise that key phone spam statistics highlight the growing problem. Tech companies and governments alike invest massive amounts of time and resources to solve the problem. The problem has grown so large that it’s created an entire (and lucrative) market for apps (like Truecaller and Robokiller) that filter out spam calls.
Phone spam stats: The big picture
There are 10 stats that we can point to which provide a high-level understanding of the phone spam problem:
1. Scam calls cost $29.8 billion in the first half of 2021
Every year, Truecaller reports on the financial impact scam calls have on America. In the year up to June 2021, Americans lost $29.8 billion to scam calls. (Source: Truecaller).
2. Scams calls increase year-on-year
First Orion’s scam call trends report detailed the state of scam calls in 2021.There was a 118% increase in scam calls in 2021 versus 2020. (Source: First Orion).
3. Scam calls are gripping more victims
First Orion’s scam call report surveyed callers to understand the scale of people falling for scam calls. The number of people who fell victim to a phone scam in 2020 was 270% higher than the previous year. (Source: First Orion).
4. Phones are the most-used channel for scam
As of 2021, scammers are still most likely to contact you by phone. In fact, you were almost twice as likely to be called versus texted. However, in the first half of 2022, scammers were using both avenues of attack equally. (Source: FTC).
5. The average scam call costs victims $567
Hiya’s State of the Call 2022 report weighed in on the costs of scam calls per victim. In 2021, scam phone calls cost their victims an average of $567.41, a huge increase from the previous year’s losses ($182 on average). (Source: Hiya).
6. Number spoofing remains a huge problem
First Orion’s scam trends report found that in 2018, nearly 70% of scam calls in the US were using neighborhood spoofing. However, the FCC has since introduced STIR/SHAKEN, a caller ID authentication system designed to make this kind of deception significantly more difficult.
(Source: First Orion).
7. Southern states are more likely to be targeted
T-Mobile’s 2021 Scam Shield Report found that Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Georgia received the most scam calls. Specifically, residents of Dallas and Fort Worth were the worst hit.
8. Scam calls cost $30 billion
Americans lost nearly $30 billion from phone scams in 2021 — over $10 billion more than the amount lost in 2020. (Source: Truecaller).
9. Brazilians most likely to be targeted by spam calls
Truecaller’s top 20 countries affected by spam report looks at how scams affect callers by their geographical location. It found that Brazil, Peru, and Ukraine were the most common targets, with Brazil remaining in first place for four years running. (Source: Truecaller)
10. Scam calls rise again by 22% in 2021
59.49 million US residents lost money from a phone scam in 2021. This is an increase of 22%% in 2020. (Source: Truecaller).
11. You’re likely to lose more money if contacted by phone
FTC data shows that in 2021, victims of scam calls lost an average of $1,200, while those contacted via text, email, or websites lost lower (but still substantial) sums. This could be due to the increased pressure a scammer can apply when speaking to the victim directly.
Additional phone spam and scam statistics
Phone spam is an international nuisance that represents just how advanced cybercriminals have become at using telecommunications technology to their own advantage. The significant growth rate of mobile-based phone spam and phone number spoofing also reflects the difficulties governments, telecommunications companies, tech companies, and consumers are all having when it comes to responding to the threat.
The following statistics provide a clear picture of how extensive phone spam is worldwide, and just how much damage and frustration this issue is causing.
12. Robocalls make up 60% of calls in 2021
The US saw a 56% increase in the number of spam calls in 2021. Robocalls accounted for 60% of all calls. (Source: Truecaller).
13. COVID-related calls rose by 59% in 2021
Truecaller’s spam call report asked users how they been impacted by scam calls during the pandemic. 59% of Americans received spam calls related to COVID-19 in 2021. (Source: Truecaller).
14. 18 spam calls received per month on average
Hiya’s State of the Call report asked respondents how many spam or fraud calls they received on average each month. It found that US residents experienced an average of 18 per month. (Source: Hiya).
15. Average robocalls per month change due to spam-call blocking
However, Truecaller’s 2021 data report shows an average of 31 calls per month, up from 28 spam calls per month in 2020. This reflects a small difference in how spam-blocking companies are collecting and analyzing data. (Source: Truecaller).
16. In 2021, one spammer made over 200 million calls
One spammer in India was responsible for 202 million scam calls in 2021, which works out at 27,000 fraud attempts per hour. It should be noted that this isn’t one person, but more likely an entire office full of fraudsters. (Source: Truecaller).
17. Scammers frequently impersonate legitimate businesses
Hiya’s 2022 State of the Call survey found that 62% of scam calls had the scammer lie about who they were. This has led to 12% of victims ceasing contact with the impersonated business.
18. The UK was the 4th most-spammed country in 2020
Truecaller noticed an increase of 159% when it came to spam calls in 2020. Of these, 48% were sales calls and 59% were outright fraudulent. (Source: Truecaller).
19. Yorkshire is the most-targeted British location for spam calls
According to National Accident Helpline, people in Yorkshire and the Humber receive more spam calls than anyone else in the UK. 66% are cold-called regularly, with 20% of these receiving more than one call a day. (Source: National Accident Helpline).
20. Americans distrustful of unknown numbers
87% of US respondants said that they refuse to answer calls unless they can identify who is calling. Thanks to number spoofing, this isn’t a definitive defense against scams, but it is a step in the right direction. (Source: Truecaller).
21. The UK no longer hindered by marketing research calls
Marketing research calls are no longer substantial enough to form a part of the UK’s spam data. This is a pretty significant drop from the 3% share of all spam calls they accounted for in 2018. (Source: Truecaller).
22. Brazilians receive on average, one spam call per day
Brazil leads the world in spam callers per person. In 2021, Brazilian residents received an average of 32.9 phone spam calls per person, per month. (Source: Truecaller).
23. Fixed line call scams are reducing
Landline phone scams in the US are on the decline. In 2017, scammers used landlines for 56% of their phone scam attempts. In 2019, that number fell to less than 25%. (Source: First Orion).
24. 25% of robocalls were telemarketing
Hiya’s State of the Call findings show that telemarketing wasn’t a huge concern in 2018. Telemarketers made up only 25% of robocalls in the report. (Source: Hiya).
25. Almost in five lost money to a COVID-19 phone scam
First Orion surveyed users to understand how scam calls related to the Covid-19 pandemic had affected them. 17% of Americans revealed that they’d lost money to a scam call related to COVID-19. (Source: First Orion).
26. Most businesses don’t know if their calls are being flagged as a spam risk or not
While customers like to speak to businesses over the phone (especially if they’re talking to a bank or insurance company), they’re wary of unknown numbers. Despite this, 38% of businesses have no idea whether they’re being marked as “potential fraud” or not. 32% of businesses do know, however, and would be willing to pay a premium to have their organization’s caller ID verified. (Source: Hiya).
27. 2019 saw an increase in the victims of the Wangiri scam
Hiya highlighted some interesting figures on the Wangiri Scam. The Wangiri Scam, also known as the “one-call scam”, increased 250% between 2017 and 2018. The scam grew by a further 58% in 2019. (Source: Hiya).
28. Consumers don’t answer all calls received
Overall, consumers only pick up roughly half of all calls they receive. As a result, scam callers aren’t reaching their target victims as often to succeed with a scam. (Source: Hiya).
29. Spam call duration is down
Hiya’s State of the Phone Call 2019 report found that the average spam call only lasts 11 seconds. This could indicate people are becoming more aware of scam callers. (Source: Hiya).
30. Personal data used to fool victims
Scammers are now using hacked data to make more targeted attacks via spam calls. FirstOrion found 28% of scam callers use some form of personal data to persuade victims. (Source: FirstOrion).
31. Scam callers approach victims with critical personal data
Scammers are doing their research on victims before initiating a call to enhance their chances of a scam succeeding. In 2019, of those who lost $1,000 or more to a phone scam, 75% claimed the caller already possessed critical personal information prior to the call. (Source: FirstOrion).
32. Scam callers record home addresses before calls
39% of victims said that the scammer knew their home address before it was given. Likewise, in 17% of cases, the scammer knew some or all of the victim’s social security numbers. (Source: FirstOrion).
33. Scam callers change tactics
First Orion uses the data from its scam call report to predict upcoming scam trends. The rise of Enterprise Spoofing may cause a 20% reduction in neighbor spoofing as scam callers switch tactics. (Source: FirstOrion).
34. People are fooled into handing over data
The 2020 scam call report investigated the likelihood of a caller being fooled into handing over their personal data. It found that those handing over their personal data to scammers in 2020 was 3.7 times more effective than the previous year. (Source: FirstOrion).
35. Scammers obtain credit card details easier
First Orion’s 2020 scam call report surveyed users on the impact of spam calls involving financial details. In 2020, victims giving their SSN or credit card info to a scammer impacted 6.5 times more victims than in 2019. (Source: FirstOrion).
No end to phone spam in sight
Currently, available data suggests one troubling conclusion: there is no clear end in sight for the world’s growing phone-spam problem. As spammers quickly adapt to more discreet and harder-to-stop methods, telecommunications companies and governments have struggled to address the issue. According to Truecaller’s Director of Communications, Kim Fai Kok, “By just looking at the trends and statistics, we do not see spam calls stopping any time soon.”