January 24, 2024
Global Robocalls Are Reducing Trust in Phone Calls
Global robocalls affect almost everyone who owns a phone. These callers are relentless. Approximately 2700 robocalls are placed every second around the world, and consumers who own a phone receive an average of 28 robocalls and texts each month. While the FCC and other regulators work to stop robocalls to U.S. consumers with some success, the global problem continues to grow.
Losses to scam callers number in the billions each year. Sadly, the issue in foreign countries bleeds into the United States. The U.S. robocall problem will not end until the industry can prevent robocalls from originating in other countries as well.
The Global Robocall Problem
Although the U.S. population receives 10% of the world’s phone spam, other countries receive more. Spain receives 24%, the United Kingdom 22%, Italy 21%, and France 20%. Brazil and Canada also have a significant robocall issue. While many of these calls are just an annoyance, a significant portion are scam calls that successfully defraud consumers of billions of dollars annually. Consumers in the U.S. have lost $65 billion to scam calls as of December 2023.
U.K. Pension Scams
In the U.K., pension scams are targeting elderly citizens, leading to a loss of billions of pounds for this vulnerable population. Since 2015, around 40,000 pensioners have been victimized by various phone schemes. Some scammers offer to grow the call recipients’ money if they transfer their pension funds to them. Other fraudsters will offer a free pension review or early pensions to get their hands on retirees’ money.
Pension experts warn consumers that terms such as “loophole,” “savings advance,” and “one-off investment” are often used by scammers to gain control of their pensions. They urge the public to report potential scams and to check with their trusted financial advisors before making any major financial moves. Those who fall for these fraudulent schemes can end up destitute during their senior years.
Canada’s War on Scam Calls
Canadians also have a robocall issue with citizens receiving approximately 4-5 spam calls monthly. This number is lower than in some other countries, but it still makes up approximately 20% of calls in the country. Canada does work to implement STIR/SHAKEN call authentication technology, and they have also identified four key areas to target spam calls:
- Call Origination: Identifying the originating party and allowing law enforcement to shut down its operation.
- Originating Provider: Encouraging providers to be more vigilant about their callers’ identity and shutting down bad actors.
- Terminating Provider: Using analytics at this point is the only option to stop scam calls in progress.
- Handset: Since spam calls end on the consumer’s handset, they can immediately report suspected fraud, allowing the authorities and carriers to prevent future contact with these spammers and scammers.
In addition, Canada has noticed a rise in AI technology used by scammers to target citizens. Fraudsters are using AI to remove the accents of callers to help alleviate consumer suspicion. They also use AI to generate more convincing scripts to fool call recipients. They may employ automated bots instead of human agents as well to create more effective calls. Some even use voice cloning as a way to improve their schemes.
Spam Calls Plague Brazil
Almost half of the phone calls received in Brazil are classified as spam. Of these calls, 10% are actual fraudulent calls. One of the factors leading to these staggering numbers is the need for call-blocking apps and technology for consumers in the country.
Currently, consumers there frequently receive unwanted sales, data collection, scams, or robocalls. Since they do not have the technology to block the calls as individuals, they are demanding that mobile carriers improve their protective measures.
Gateway Providers Hold the Key
Stopping foreign robocalls is a daunting task. However, U.S. regulators are targeting gateway providers to hold them more accountable for the calls they facilitate in the U.S. The acting head of the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, has proposed a regulation that would force U.S.-based gateway providers to verify calls before passing them on to providers in the U.S. Currently, scammers use these smaller companies to sneak their calls into the U.S. from abroad.
Impact on Businesses
Spam calls reduce consumers’ willingness to answer their phones. Any unknown number is often perceived as a spam call by average consumers. Businesses, hospitals, government organizations, and financial and educational institutions need help reaching customers because of this ingrained consumer distrust.
The problem is not just domestic. Global robocalls are a key part of the problem and a more difficult issue to address. In an era of lowered consumer trust in phone calls, businesses must remain vigilant in monitoring their caller IDs, registering phone numbers, and abiding by ethical dialing habits. The FCC is fighting external threats, including global robocalls, but your company must mitigate its internal calling issues.