September 15th, 2020
The COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate has put a significant dent in the ability of bad actors to launch robocall campaigns, driving a 15% drop in unwanted calls in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period during the prior year. However, bad actors quickly pivoted to pandemic-focused scams in an attempt to fleece Americans out of their money and personal information – according to the Transaction Network Services (TNS) Fall 2020 Robocall Investigation Report released today.
Despite the drop, more than 100 billion unwanted calls have been made in the last 12 months. Notably, the TNS report finds twice as many unwanted calls were placed to wireline (home/office) telephone numbers over the past year than were made to wireless numbers (smartphone/feature phone) – suggesting that tier-1 wireless providers’ “opt-out” call blocking and labeling services, implementation of STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework and aggressive FCC enforcement action may be impacting bad actor tactics.
The TNS 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).
A number of factors have collided to create unique shifts in robocall volume and trends during the past 12 months, including the coronavirus pandemic, heightened regulatory enforcement, carrier and vendor technology innovation, and the upcoming 2020 Presidential election.
Additional key report findings:
“The drop in robocalls is welcome news for consumers, but may be short-lived as stay-at-home measures ease which means that regulators, carriers and industry participants must remain aggressive in combating bad actors,” said Mike Keegan, Chief Executive Officer at TNS. “We also believe there should be as much focus going forward on making sure legitimate calls get through and answered as there is on blocking unwanted calls. The challenges faced by COVID-19 contact tracing and other important automated call campaigns around getting the call to the subscriber and getting the subscriber to answer the call underscore the risks when legitimate calls can’t get through or go unanswered. Restoring trust in voice calling will come down to leveraging advanced data analytics to rapidly and accurately identify unwanted calls as well as legitimate calls.”
Click here to request a full copy of the Fall 2020 TNS Robocall Investigation Report.