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New report shows the number of robocalls grew a whopping 325% worldwide last year

Published Feb 27th, 2019 10:41AM EST
Robocall data
Image: Dmitry Kuznitsov, Dreamstime

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The team behind caller ID service Hiya has taken advantage of the attention generated by MWC this week to release its Global Robocall Radar Report, putting some hard data to the massive growth in the scourge of unwanted calls, and the results it found are unfortunately as depressing as you’d expect.

Based on an analysis of more than 12 billion calls worldwide each month, Hiya’s report finds that, globally, spam calls saw a massive 325% spike in 2018, with the problem particularly acute in places like the US, as well as Italy, France, the UK and Argentina among areas hit hardest by nuisance and fraudulent phone calls.

Among the report’s most interesting findings:

For the top 10 countries with the biggest spam problem, the Hiya data includes a breakdown of the percentage of incoming calls that are not marked as “saved to contacts” and are identified as spam, in addition to the average number of monthly spam calls per user. Those numbers are as follows:

1) Spain:

  • Spam Rate: 24%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 9

2) The UK:

  • Spam Rate: 22%;
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 7

3) Italy:

  • Spam Rate: 21%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 6

4) France:

  • Spam Rate: 20%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 7

5) Argentina:

  • Spam Rate: 10%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 3

6) United States:

  • Spam Rate: 10%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 7

7) Mexico:

  • Spam Rate: 9%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 6

8) Brazil:

  • Spam Rate: 9%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 8

9) Chile:

  • Spam Rate: 9%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 4

10) Australia:

  • Overall Spam Rate: 6%;
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 2

We should also point out, this data comes about a month after Hiya released a US-specific version of this analysis, its State of the Phone Call report that we wrote about here. Among the key takeaways there is the fact that, because we’re all getting so much spammy phone calls, Americans tend to only answer a little more than half of all calls they get on their mobile phones. What’s more, Americans tend to let some 76 percent of calls go to voicemail when the recipient sees it’s coming from an unknown number.

“As spam calls continue to skyrocket globally, the demand for protection from unwanted phone calls has increased drastically,” Hiya CEO Alex Algard said about the new data, pointing to a need for companies like his to help consumers better screen inbound calls.

In 2018, for example, his company identified more than 1.3 billion calls as spam, blocking more than 425 million of them.

Data like this is certainly interesting to report, because it underscores the reality that robocalls are out of control everywhere and not just in countries like the US. Indeed, that the problem is on the rise pretty much around the globe. In tandem with that, the Hiya report also identifies these as among the most popular spam “campaigns” globally:

  • One is the bank account scam, in which callers pretend to be bank official asking for sensitive account information.
  • Other scammers have tried to disguise the fact that they’re prison inmates and will call random phone numbers demanding payment for the return of a “kidnapped” family member or friend, according to Hiya.
  • Phishing scams are another popular method, in which thieves trick victims into handing over personal information. Likewise with the phone number-spoofing scam, in which robocallers and spam callers use software to trick consumers into thinking a legitimate caller with a local number is trying to reach them.
  • Hiya also points to the so-called “one ring” scam, in which callers trick victims into calling them back on an international number, with the victims not realizing they’re paying an exorbitant rate for the call.
Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.