March 4th, 2020
US consumers received 106 billion unwanted robocalls (325 per person) in 2019 – a 49% increase from the previous year – according to the Transaction Network Services (TNS) 2020 Robocall Investigation Report released today. A key finding from the TNS report shows that robocallers are increasingly spoofing legitimate customer-care numbers from trusted brands to try to trick consumers.
The 2020 Robocall Investigation Report is a bi-annual update of key robocall trends drawing from over one billion daily call events from more than 500 carriers. The report looks at data trends for two types of unwanted robocalls: high-risk robocalls (scam/fraudulent calls which attempt to acquire call recipient personal information and/or money) and nuisance robocalls (which are not of malicious intent).
Both nuisance and high-risk calls grew over 40% in 2019 compared to the prior year, and the rate of unwanted robocalls accelerated in the second half of 2019 – jumping 70% from the same period the prior year. Additional key findings from the 2020 Robocall Investigation Report include:
89% of High-Risk Calls Come from Non-Tier 1 Carriers
While 68% of US calls originate from the six largest carriers (AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon), the TNS report finds that only 11% of calls coming from Tier-1 telephone numbers are considered high-risk. This 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.
High-Risk Calls from Toll-Free Numbers More Than Doubled in 2019
The second half of 2019 saw a dramatic shift by bad actors from spoofing VoIP numbers to spoofing legitimate toll-free numbers, as toll-free originated calls increased to 28% of high-risk calls (up from 12% in 2018). Of greater concern is the fact that consumers are increasingly inundated with calls that appear to come from well-known, trusted brands – increasing the risk of being scammed out of money and information.
Neighbor Spoofing Up 40% in 2019
The use of neighbor spoofing increased 40% in 2019. Snowshoe spamming (spreading spoofed calls over several telephone numbers in low volume, then rapidly churning through the numbers to evade detection) also remains a preferred tactic that is difficult for over-the-top (OTT) robocall blocking apps to detect because they are not integrated with the network to detect real time, cross-carrier call events.
“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 Transaction Network Services. “It takes a layered approach to restore trust in voice calling.”
TNS’ Call Guardian technology enables carriers to identify more unwanted robocalls than competitors. By integrating big data analytics with call attestation parameters from STIR/SHAKEN, Call Guardian is the most accurate reputation profile solution and delivers a better customer experience by using a layered approach to analytics.
Click here for a full copy of the 2020 TNS Robocall Investigation Report.