TNS Report Finds Only 10% of High Risk Robocalls Come From Tier 1 Carriers

March 26th, 2019

TNS 2019 Robocall Investigation Report suggests that robocall scammers and spoofers continue to leverage smaller carriers networks to evade detection and oversight

While the top six U.S. carriers (AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) account for three-fourths of total call volume, only 10% of high risk (scam/fraud) robocalls now originate from numbers owned by these six carriers – according to the 2019 Robocall Investigation Report released today by Transaction Network Services (TNS). The low volume of high risk robocalls across top U.S. carrier networks suggest robocallers continue to capitalize on networks and numbering resources from non tier-1 carriers.

The TNS 2019 Robocall Investigation Report is a bi-annual update of key robocall trends that draws from over 1 billion daily call events across hundreds of carriers and integrates a vast amount of factual evidence from TNS’ network traffic. The report looks at data trends for high risk robocalls (scam/fraudulent calls which attempt to acquire call recipient personal information and/or money) as well as nuisance robocalls (which are not of malicious intent or negligent non-compliance).

While the report finds that nuisance robocalls rose 13%, scam and fraud robocalls (the highest risk category to consumers) actually decreased 18% in 2018 from the prior year. The decrease in high risk robocalls suggests recent FCC enforcement actions, such as record fines, alongside proactive carrier and industry efforts that leverage analytics are starting to have a positive impact.

Additional key findings of the TNS 2019 Robocall Investigation Report:

  • Robocallers are spoofing legitimate customer care numbers. Consumers are increasingly receiving spoofed calls that appear on their smartphone display to come from legitimate customer care numbers. More than two-thirds of the calls from legitimate toll-free numbers are identified as nuisance or high-risk.
  • Robocall spoofers hijacking mobile numbers. 1 in 4,000 mobile numbers are now being hijacked by robocall spoofers every month, which is causing 20% of people who have had their number hijacked to disconnect their phone
  • Snowshoe spamming is the new neighbor spoofing. Neighbor spoofing now accounts for 24% of all negative calls – up 5 percentage points from the prior year. But it gets worse: sophisticated spammers are spreading spoofed calls over several telephone numbers in low volume, then rapidly churning through them to evade detection – a tactic known as snowshoe spamming.
  • Negative call traffic from Canada is up more than 100%. Originating Canadian inter-carrier calls labeled as nuisance and high-risk increased over 100% from first to fourth quarter.

“Bad actors are launching more sophisticated robocall campaigns – whether it’s snowshoe spamming or using legitimate customer care numbers to dupe subscribers into answering calls that appear to come from brands they trust,” said Bill Versen, Chief Product Officer at TNS. “But our 2019 report finds glimmers of hope for the year ahead with a decrease in high risk robocall volume, a trend that can continue with carrier deployment of STIR/SHAKEN, further FCC and FTC enforcement actions, and more innovative robocall detection and blocking solutions available to consumers and businesses.”

TNS Call Guardian, TNS’ industry leading big-data analytics engine, aims to suppress nuisance calls to consumers by applying machine learning to call events, generating insights and reputation to more than 1.5 billion phone numbers. Additionally, TNS’ mobile caller ID solutions have been shipped to over 200 million mobile devices across more than 500 makes and models, providing a rich integrated call experience to all mobile users at TNS’ carrier partners.

Please click here if you are interested in a full copy of the2019 TNS Robocall Investigation Report.

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