More than 300 million unwanted robocalls are sent to Americans each day

Despite ongoing efforts by industry and regulators to stem the flood of unwanted robocalls, a Transaction Network Services report has found that the number of such robocalls jumped by 49% from 2018 to 2019, and grew even faster in the second half of 2019 than they did in the first. The average consumer received 325 unwanted robocalls in 2019, and Americans as a whole now receive more than 300 million of those calls each day.

As the volume of calls continues to increase, scammers are also going all-out in tactics that try to fool users into answering their calls. So-called “neighbor spoofing,” in which a recipient’s local exchange is spoofed, rose 40% year-over-year. Legitimate toll-free numbers are also being spoofed to disguise fraudulent calls, with high-risk calls from toll-free numbers more than doubling between 2018 to 2019 as robocall operations shifted from spoofing Voice over IP numbers to spoofing toll-free numbers. TNS found that they are “increasingly spoofing legitimate customer-care numbers from trusted brands to try to trick consumers.”

TNS’ bi-annual report is based on trends drawn from more than 1 billion daily calls across more than 500 carriers, the company said. It examines data from both “high-risk” robocalls which are scams that try to extract money or personal information from recipients, and “nuisance” robocalls that don’t have malicious intent but are still unwanted.

Both types of unwanted robocalls grew at more than 40% between 2018 to 2019, and TNS found that the rate of growth in unwanted calls actually accelerated in the second half of last year, when it was up 70% from the same period in 2018.

Network operators are increasingly implemented the STIR/SHAKEN framework that checks a call’s authentication to make sure it is actually coming from the number displayed. But STIR/SHAKEN can only work when it is implemented on both the network where the call originates, and the network of the call recipient. Major carriers have been putting that in motion, with heavy encouragement and even requirements from U.S regulators and legislators; one of the more recent announcements came last month, when T-Mobile US and Sprint put cross-carrier STIR/SHAKEN in place.

On the plus side, TNS found that when the framework is implemented, it cuts down on unwanted robocalls dramatically. Just 11% of calls originating from Tier 1 network providers were considered high-risk, even though such providers account for 68% of U.S. calls. That means that 89% of high-risk calls were originating from smaller, non-Tier 1 operators, TNS noted, and “suggests that as top carriers deploy STIR/SHAKEN and take other aggressive measures to combat robocalls, bad actors will continue to target smaller carriers to launch their robocall campaigns.”

“Americans received nearly 300 million daily unwanted calls in 2019, which is staggering. However, carriers, other industry participants and regulators aggressively collaborated in the second half of 2019 to address this issue and now have well thought out plans and strategies to execute in 2020 to combat robocalls. The recently passed Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, broader deployment of STIR/SHAKEN and carrier usage of analytics engines should reduce unwanted robocalls,” said Bill Versen, chief product officer at TNS. “It takes a layered approach to restore trust in voice calling.”

The Pallone-Thune TRACED Act requires carriers to offer call authentication, as well as opt-in or opt-out robocall blocking, at no additional charge to consumers.

Mike Keegan, CEO of TNS, has previously said that all of the Tier 1 carriers have made “significant moves” toward STIR/SHAKEN deployment. However, the SIP-based technology can only be used in IP-based networks, so legacy networks have to rely on “reasonable analytics” as a basis for dealing with robocalls. The Tier 1 operators who have implemented STIR/SHAKEN see a major drop in nuisance and high-scam-risk robocalls, he said, so fewer robocallers are able to use Tier 1 carrier networks as an originating point to get to subscribers. That doesn’t mean bad actors are cut off entirely, however. Keegan said they often move on to 800 numbers (which are not covered by the STIR/SHAKEN framework) or to origination on smaller carriers’ networks, who don’t currently have significant programs in place to prevent nuisance calls.

The post Unwanted robocalls up 49% in one year, TNS finds appeared first on RCR Wireless News.


Source link