A new report from Truecaller, developers of a smartphone app that blocks nuisance robocalls, says that Brazilian subscribers receive the most voice spam of any nationality, with almost 50 calls per user per month. Brazil retained the top spot on Truecaller’s international list with a near 10 percent increase on the number of spam calls reported in 2019. The USA overtook several countries to rise from eighth to second on Truecaller’s list, with an average of 28.4 spam calls per user per month. Truecaller say their figures are derived from 31.3bn calls blocked for their customers between January and October of this year.
Truecaller’s data suggests that 48 percent of spam calls received by Brazilians are made by fraudsters. This is a much higher proportion than they previously reported. Last year Truecaller said the leading sources of Brazilian spam were telcos who habitually used phone calls to market their services.
After Brazil and the USA, the remainder of Truecaller’s top ten countries for spam were: Hungary; Poland; Spain; Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, India and Chile. Brazil’s numbers were relatively consistent with those stated in 2019 whilst other countries exhibited much larger year-on-year variations.
Reports like these should always be reviewed with a degree of skepticism. Firms like Truecaller have a natural incentive to talk about high levels of spam. They only give the headlines for their data and do not reveal the extent to which sample sizes vary from country to country because of the different levels of penetration for their product. Disparities in the customer base may have more influence on the figures reported for each country than the actual levels of spam.
One reason to question the reliability of Truecaller’s data is the extent to which levels of spam reported per country are different to those reported in 2019. No satisfactory explanation is given for why spam would swing upwards and downwards so wildly. For example, Truecaller claimed that US spam has increased by 56 percent compared to last year, despite the regulator taking a much tougher line and reporting that US telcos are blocking a higher proportion of calls than before. I consider the YouMail Robocall Index to be the most reliable measure of spam voice calls in the USA, and their figures showed the current number of US robocalls to be well below last year’s levels, with the average phone user receiving 11.6 spam calls during November.
You can see Truecaller’s 2020 spam findings here.