Truecaller has released its Insights Report for 2020, which ranks India 9th on the list of top countries affected by spam calls. This was a drop for India in the rankings, which indicates spam calls actually fell this year in the country. Truecaller’s report also revealed another interesting fact during the three months of lockdown: In India calls to emergency services spiked by 148% at the beginning of the lockdown.
The fourth edition of the report points out that the Covid-19 pandemic affected “communications behaviour and spam patterns around the world”. As per the report, Brazil is the most affected country in the world by spam calls, followed by the US and Hungary. On the other hand, spam calls received in India recorded witnessed a 34 percent decrease, despite making it into the top 10 countries affected. Just three years back, India was the number one country with spam calls.
Lockdown enforced in the country due to the Covid-19 may be one of the reasons why the spam calls decreased as most of these calls were generated from domestic numbers, according to Truecaller. Similarly, there was a dip in spam calls globally during this period as governments enforced strict curfews and lockdowns along with guidelines for citizens in order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
But while spam calls decreased in India, Truecaller’s report shows that “scam calls in particular increased from 6% to 9%.” In its report, the company says they noticed that a “very particular type of scam in India that seems to gain traction each year,” and this is related to KYC and OTP. KYC is know your customer, and very often unsuspecting users are sent a message asking them to share the One Time Password or OTP in order to complete KYC. Truecaller says the scams are very common now.
According to the report, “scammers try to hook unsuspecting people using either phone calls or SMS and the tactic is always the same: they will try to get you to give up sensitive information about your financials or force you to you reveal a secret OTP with the ultimate aim of extracting money from your bank accounts or digital wallets.”
The Indian state worst affected by spam calls was Gujarat (13.5 percent) closely followed by Maharashtra (13.2 percent), Andhra Pradesh (9.5 percent), Uttar Pradesh (9.5 percent) and Delhi (7.5 percent). Truecaller’s report says that 52 percent of the spam calls were made by operators whereas telemarketers were responsible for 34 percent. The rest 14 percent, included 9 percent scam calls and five percent financial services.
The most number of spam calls recorded globally was in the month of October which is considerably higher than the numbers recorded in the pre-lockdown phase. Truecaller’s report also showed that while spam calls in India decreased, women continue to received harassing calls with 8 out of 10 women in the country receiving sexually harassing or inappropriate calls and SMS regularly.