Over half of the calls people receive now are spam

These uncertain times are prime opportunities for scammers to prey on the masses.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Although unwanted calls are nothing new, spam and scam phone calls affect thousands of people each day.

Scammers claiming to work for government agencies, technical support, or asking for your health insurance information causes great concern to people in lockdown as COVID-19 crosses the US.

But we are more tempted to answer the phone when we are home all day even though for many these spam, scam, and robocalls are unwanted.

Roboshield, part of California-based online safety services company Pango, surveyed 1,005 Americans about their experiences with unwanted cellphone calls.

It wanted to discover how many total calls respondents received on their cellphone in a typical week and the number of unwanted calls such as spam or scam calls they received during the course of a week.

On average, over half (54%) of the calls that people received were unwanted. People in their 20s receive an average of 11 unwanted calls per week, people in their 30s and 40s receive 12, and people aged 50 and older receive 13 unwanted calls per week.

Four out of five (80.1%) people think that unwanted phone calls are the most annoying -- less than one in 10 think that text messages (10.2%), or emails (9.7%) are most annoying.

Over half (55.1%) of Americans would answer their phone if it was an unknown caller with a familiar phone number. A third (33.1%) would answer the phone if it was in the same area code as the receiver, and over one in four (27.1%) would answer if the unknown caller was in the same state as the receiver.

Almost one in four (22.6%) would answer the phone to an unknown caller. People ages 50 and older reported receiving the most unwanted calls.

Sadly, almost one in 10 (10%) of people admit to falling for a phone scam, while over one in three (34%) know someone that has fallen for a phone scam.

When scammers or spammers are suspected, almost nine out of 10 (90.1%) do not answer the phone, but when they do, the claims of the caller vary significantly.

More than one in two (53.8%) people have received calls from scammers claiming to be from a government agency; one in four (25.5%) have received calls from scammers requesting their health insurance information.

Almost one in 10 (8.5%) receive calls claiming a family member is in trouble, and 6.2% answer calls claiming a fine is owed for missing jury duty.

How you can reduce unwanted spam and scam calls zdnet

Efforts to reduce unwanted calls vary. Over half (53.6%) block unwanted callers' numbers using the features on their cellphone. Over two in five (41.7%) register the number on the no-call list on the National Do Not Call registry.

Over one in five (21.1%) of Americans said that they had taken no action to try and stop receiving unwanted calls.

Only 16% of people use "do not disturb" mode on their iPhone to only allow calls from personal contacts, yet it is rated the most effective method for reducing unwanted calls.

More than three in four people said that they answer the phone less often than they did five years ago. As more people are opting to stay indoors, they may be tempted to answer an unknown call.

Make sure you block those unwanted numbers as soon as you get the call. Say "I'm in a bad signal area," which enables you to end the call, and quickly block the number. 

Add your number to the National Do Not Call registry, and resist the temptation to answer any calls unless you know exactly who is trying to get in touch with you.

If the call is important, the caller will leave a message and you can get back to them whenever you choose to -- not when they want you to answer.

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