This Is Now the Biggest Robocall Scam — by a Long Shot

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Angry man yelling at the phone
Yaw Niel /

Last year was rough for anyone who hates spam calls and text messages. Americans received 87.8 billion spam text messages and 72.2 billion spam calls in 2021, according to RoboKiller, an app that blocks spam calls and texts.

Overall, spam texts jumped 58% and spam calls surged 32% in 2021.

In a press release, RoboKiller says spam text messages surpassed spam calls by more than 15 billion last year, the second straight year texts eclipsed calls:

“RoboKiller believes this is a concerted effort by scammers to address declining call answer rates (75% of millennials would rather text than call) and new STIR/SHAKEN regulations designed to curb caller ID spoofing.”

One type of scam — delivery-related scam text messages — made up 26% of all scam texts last year. RoboKiller says scammers like to predict people’s purchasing habits.

“As a result, messages containing links to track packages or adjust delivery preferences flooded American phones,” according to RoboKiller.

Despite this trend toward more spam texts, it is still robocalls that drive many Americans nuts. The No. 1 type of fraudulent phone message last year was a familiar one: the car warranty scam.

RoboKiller says the car warranty scam dominated robocalls in 2021, with Americans being contacted 12 billion times with this scam last year. That’s the largest number recorded since the app began tracking scam calls in 2017. It notes that it is “statistically possible that every American received at least one vehicle warranty scam call in 2021.”

In 2020, car warranty scam robocalls ranked No. 2, behind Social Security scam robocalls. In 2021, however, the former easily took over the No. 1 spot.

The top types of robocalls and their numbers in 2021 were:

  1. Vehicle warranty: 12.9 billion estimated spam calls
  2. Health insurance: 3.1 billion
  3. Religious: 3 billion
  4. Social Security: 2.9 billion
  5. Student loans: 2.8 billion

RoboKiller estimates that Americans lost $40 billion to phone scams last year. It also notes that the Federal Communication Commission’s STIR/SHAKEN mandate “has yet to make a dent” in spoofed calls, which are those that display a phony number on Caller IDs.

We recently reported on this problem in “Why Robocalls Haven’t Stopped, Despite Government Promises.”

If robocalls are testing your last strand of sanity, fight back. There are steps you can take to reduce the toll of this scourge. For more, check out “8 Easy Ways You Can Stop Robocalls.”

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