It’s a worrying sign when under 50% of incoming calls get picked up, but that’s what a report by HIYA says was the case for 2019.

Scam calls grew 106% compared to 2018, with American phones receiving an average of 14 fraudulent calls per month.

scam calls graphic

Legitimate businesses need to work more and more to have their calls delivered to the consumer. And declining trust might have people miss important calls from hospitals and healthcare providers which now grew to the number one calling industry.

9% Pick-up Rate for Scam/Fraud Numbers

A very important distinction in the report is that between calls that are identified as businesses and calls that are not identified at all.

While the overall average clocks in at 47%, the data makes clear what was already obvious: people want to know who’s calling.

Of the total number of calls in one year, 54% were incoming – that’s 117. 39% of those were not saved in the contacts, and the consumer report shows us that just 41% of them were picked up.

pich up rate report hiya

Source: HIYA Report.

Now, if the business making the call has caller ID correctly assigned, there’s a far better chance they’ll get through to the customer. 65% of calls from businesses with true caller ID were answered as opposed to just 18% of calls where the screen displayed just a number.

That number drops even lower if the number was marked as spam or fraud.

If you’re a business, you should take extra care that your numbers are labeled correctly!

People Don’t Have Time for Scams

The same report by HIYA shows just how little time people give to spam callers. On average, these types of incoming calls were just 45 seconds long. That’s somewhat higher than the average for all calls lacking an ID, which was 30 seconds.

That number immediately jumps by a lot when the call correctly shows the ID of a business. People spend an average of 2 minutes and 58 seconds on calls with “legitimate” businesses (which may just mean businesses which took the necessary precautions to both be TCPA compliant, navigate the call labeling ecosystem, and assign themselves truthful caller ID).

The time on-call jumped up even more when averaged for all the saved contacts, reaching 5 minutes and 28 seconds.

No ID 00:30
Spam 00:45
Biz. ID 2:58
Saved Contact 5:28

54.6 Billion Scam Calls Breakdown by Category

Despite TCPA regulations and numerous other state-level laws in place to prevent robocalls, there are still a lot of those. Specifically, 9.7% or 2.1 million robocalls over the course of 2019. However, this is the lowest category of the whole bunch.

Next up is the telemarketing industry which pulled in a whopping 5 million calls in 2019 or a total of 22.6%.

Interesting note:

Surprisingly for a pre-election year, political calls or campaign calls only amassed 0.4% of the total, or about 80,000. This goes to show just how obnoxious the rest of the calls are if they far outweigh the political ones protected under the First Amendment.

However, the most worrying of all percentages is the 28% fraud calls. That’s 6.4 million calls with scammer intent made in 2019 – and if we’re to follow the trend, that number is bound to go up in 2020 unless something much stronger than the TRACED Act passes into law.

These fraudulent calls could be anything including:

General Scams – Loads of Undetected, Unrelated Scams

General scams take up the largest bulk of the total unwanted calls. 32.6% to be precise. This category is made up of general scams, very specific, targeted scams, and very specific ad sales calls, and many others that couldn’t fit into just one category.

spam calls categories hiya

Health Care Surges to the Top of the Calling Industries

The report by HIYA also looked into the origin of all the calls in their database and divided them by industry.

The results are as follows.

  • 1. Health care. Meaning hospitals, doctor’s offices, or pharmacies. It is unclear whether this includes open-enrollment scams.

  • 2. Financial. Including banks, credit unions, and the notorious debt collectors.

  • 3. Insurance. These include home insurance, life & health insurance, and auto insurance.

  • 4. Government. It’s worrying to see that schools and other government institutions take up such a large part. Considering the trend of call answering, we’re seeing a lot of people missing calls from the government out of an underlying mistrust of the whole calling ecosystem.

  • 5. Automotive. Closing out the top 5 we have car dealerships or repair shops.

Texas Is King

Out of the top 10 area codes that fraudulent calls use, the top 5 are in Texas – Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston (832) – in that order. The second area code for Houston (713) also comes up on the list at number 7.

Combined, these 6 areas in Texas received an estimated total of 196,878,788 nuisance calls.

US map with most calls

What can we take out of this?

One thing is for sure after looking at all of this data – the whole industry needs to step up and make sure they are using correct numbers, they comply with the TCPA standards, and use a system that permits them to send fewer overall calls while increasing the number of calls that actually go through and prove helpful to the receiver.

The whole discussion surrounding legislation should also change from more legislation to better legislation.

The TRACED Act might be a step in the right direction, featuring provisions that guard legitimate businesses against harm in case of a mislabel. Efforts like this might encourage more companies to do everything in their power to be compliant.

Still, the TRACED act has been criticized for being too tame and so far, 2020 looks to be continuing the rising trend of robocalls.