Robocall scams surge to 85 billion globally

According to Hiya, robocall spam has surged around the world and each country affected has its own unique favored scam.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Robocall spam has surged to 85 billion calls globally with bank account, credit card and extortion being common scams, according to Hiya, a company that makes apps to fend off unwanted calls.

According to Hiya's first Global Robocall Radar Report, global spam calls grew 325 percent from a year ago to 85 billion. Hiya's estimate is based on an analysis of 12 billion calls per month globally.

Also: Here's everything you can do to stop robocalls CNET

UK, Spain, Italy, France and Argentina were the countries with the most robocalls. Like spam, robocalls have proliferated because scammers get just enough victims to rake in profits. The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have been looking at ways to curb robocalls, which are one of the top consumer complaints in the U.S.

Here are the countries with the most robocalls.


The most common scams include the following:

  • Bank account scams where callers pretend to be an official from a financial institution and request information to get access to accounts.
  • Extortion and kidnapping. Callers call random numbers and request payment to return a kidnapped friend or family member.
  • Credit card scams where callers pose as a bank official and phish for card details.
  • Wangiri Scam, also known as "One Ring," is a move where there are calls to entice a victim to call back international numbers. Victims are then charged premium rates for the call.
  • Neighbor scam, which refers to the use of voice over IP to mimic local numbers and trick victims to answer.

Those scams vary by country. For instance, there's a solar energy robo call scam in Italy where fake utilities ask for information. Scammers enroll victims for services that don't exist.

Also: Plagued by robocalls? 26 billion spam calls in 2018, quarter from scammers 

The UK has a customs scam where consumers get a test message to trick consumers into downloading malware. The scam revolves around asking victims to verify information for tax rebates.

Meanwhile, Argentina gets lottery phone scams and the U.S. has fake IRS calls. Mexico, Chile and Brazil have the kidnapping and extortion phone scams.

Robocall scams are also regional. In the U.S. most of the top targeted area codes by spammers are in Texas with Orlando, Atlanta and Birmingham in the mix.

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