Spam calls and emails saw a huge rise this year

Spam messages
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

New research has shown that the volume of spam calls and emails rose significantly this year, most likely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Spam blocking app Truecaller analyzed 145 billion calls and text messages sent worldwide across the first ten months of 2020 and discovered some significant developments.

The study found that spam calls increased by 159% between January and October this year, with scammers accounting for over a third of these calls. Sales calls accounted for just under a quarter of total spam calls, while unwanted calls from insurance, financial services, and debt collection were also commonly received.

A global problem

The Truecaller research found that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the behavior of spam callers. Interestingly, spam calls started to decrease in March as the virus began to spread exponentially, with quarantines limiting access to certain communication tools that spammers would usually have utilized. However, spam calls started to rise again in May, with scammers taking advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

Looking across the globe, Brazil remains the country most affected by spam calls, seeing an increase of 9% compared to 2019. The US, however, is catching up. Spam calls in the country rose 56% compared to last year, taking the country up from eighth position to second.

Whatever country you are based in, it remains important to scrutinize every message or call you receive to ensure you do not fall victim to a scam. It is particularly important to be vigilant on weekdays, as this is when spam calls are most prevalent. It appears that even scammers take weekends off.

“Besides the sheer nuisance value of receiving unwanted calls and texts, there’s clear evidence bad actors are exploiting the public’s fears about the pandemic,” said Kim Fai Kok, Director of Communications at Truecaller. 

“An increasingly common scam is being told you need to urgently pay for a Covid-19 test as you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive. They’re very convincing and manage to convince a lot of worried people to pass on their credit card details which are then used to defraud them of their money.”

  • We've also highlighted the best VPN software
Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.