T-Mobile Blocked Over 21 Billion Scam Calls In 2021 As Robocalls Get Out Of Hand
"Hi, I am calling you about your car's extended warranty," has become a meme, but scam calls have been increasing over the past year according to new data from T-Mobile. The cell phone company released some interesting statistics concerning those scam calls on its website.
Most everyone that owns a smartphone has become accustomed to the occasional, and sometimes often, scam or robocall. Many have resorted to not answering their phone unless it is from a recognized number. And it feels like no matter where you turn, you are being targeted by scammers in some form. The FBI warned back in November that holiday shopping scams could top $53 million. In the same month, a Zelle fraud scam was aimed at stealing your bank credentials. But it is a recent report on phone scams from T-Mobile that has the attention of many right now.
T-Mobile released its 2021 Scam and Robocall Report on its website and it came with some surprising statistics. Its network data showed that there was a 116% increase in scam attempts in 2021. For phone owners that number may actually feel a bit low as they constantly fend off calls from scammers and robocallers. If you are a T-Mobile customer, however, and use its Scam Shield then you can be thankful that the number of scam calls was actually fewer than it would have been without it. T-Mobile estimates that its Scam Shield blocked over 21 billion scam calls, which is an astounding 700 calls identified or blocked every second in 2021.
Unwanted calls, or spam/scam calls were actually the number one complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These calls included illegal and spoofed robocalls. Spoofed robocalls appear to originate from a local number, when in fact they could be being made from anywhere in the world. Scammers began using this method as people began ignoring and/or blocking any call that did not come from someone in the same area code. By spoofing their number to appear to be local, they were able to reach more people about their extended car warranty.
The FCC is attempting to combat these illegal calls by issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in law enforcement action against illegal robocallers. It is empowering phone companies to block by default illegal or unwanted calls based on reasonable call analytics before the calls ever reach the user, like Scam Shield by T-Mobile. The FCC is also requiring phone companies to implement caller ID authentication to help reduce illegal spoofing.
According to the Truecaller Insights US Spam & Scam Report, a phenomenal 29.8 billion USD was lost to phone scams in America during 2021. The report also indicated that as many as 59.49 million Americans (23%) report having lost money as a result of a scam call over the last year. An estimated 1 in 3 Americans (31%) have reported having fell victim to a phone scam during 2021 and of those 19% say it happened more than once. Another figure in the report worth noting is that the average reported loss was $502, which was up from $351 in 2020.
The report from T-Mobile suggests that scam call attempts are happening at an average of 425 million calls every week. It is no wonder why it feels like we are all receiving calls so often. John Freier, President, T-Mobile's Consumer Group, stated, "We are the only provider protecting every single customer with the free scam-fighting tools in Scam Shield, regardless of their plan or device."
If you are curious as to when scammers tend to take time off, it appears that they prefer the weekends and holidays to relax from their tyranny of phone calls. T-Mobile said that it tracked an 80% drop in calls identified as Scam Likely on the weekends. As for holidays, Easter had the lowest scam volume of the year. So if there is a silver lining in this cloud of scams, it is that you can rest a bit easier on the weekends and holidays.
If you are still experiencing a high volume of scam calls, check with your phone provider for tools to combat them, such as T-Mobile's Scam Shield. Most providers have some form of protection for its customers, but you may have to download a specific app or actually activate it. As we finish out 2021 and look back on all the calls we received about our extended warranty on our vehicles, we can only hope that 2022 will be the year that phone companies find even more effective ways of protecting us from scammers and robocallers.