Scam call volume in the U.S. jumped by 116 per cent over 2020, reaching a record high, according to the 2021 Scam and Robocall Report by T-Mobile.
The numbers are staggering. At its lowest point in January, T-Mobile saw 1.1 billion scam call attempts. November had the highest number of attempts with 2.4 billion scam calls placed. In total, 2021 saw more than 21 billion scam calls – that’s 700 per second.
T-Mobile says U.S. wireless customers are projected to lose US$29.8 billion as a result.
While pandemic-related scams remained popular, the most common scam call attempt was related to fake vehicle warranties. In addition, scammers tend to position themselves as employees from social security offices, wireless providers, and package delivery services.
Scammers tended to work harder on weekdays, targeting consumers more intensely between Monday and Friday and averaging 80 million scam calls per day. When the weekend hits, scam call volume dropped by 85 per cent. Moreover, scam call volumes also drop sharply on holidays.
T-Mobile’s report pertains only to the U.S., but Canadians aren’t safe either. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, there were more than 68,000 reports of fraud of all kinds in Canada, with over 46,000 Canadians becoming victims of fraud this year, costing them CA$231 million.
To help mitigate the scam call problem here, on Dec. 1, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandated that all major telecom providers implement STIR/SHAKEN, a system designed to thwart robocalls and spoofed calls. It is too early to tell whether it’s having the desired effect.
The Anti-Fraud Centre recommends reporting any suspected fraud activity online or by phone. It also provides information on common scam tactics and mediums, as well as how to minimize damages for victims.