India witnessed calls to emergency services increase by 148 per cent in the first three months of the lockdown.
In May, spam calls started to pick up again and have been increasing on average by 9.7 per cent per month. (Photo credit: Reuters)
Indian mobile users saw a 34 per cent decline in spam calls received in 2020, helping the country move lower to the ninth position in the tally of most spammed countries, according to a report by Truecaller. Within India, Gujarat received the most spam calls in 2020. In 2019, India was at the fifth position in terms of number of spam calls received by users. This year, India has dropped down to ninth position, while Brazil continues to stay on top, Truecaller said in its report.
Despite a reduction in the number of spam calls received (34 per cent decline), India still makes it into the top 10 most spammed countries, it added. Other countries in the top 10 tally are the US, Hungary, Polen (Poland), Spain, Indonesia, the UK, Ukraine and Chile. “…(about) 98.5 per cent of all spam calls in India originate from domestic numbers, which could partly explain why spam calls have been decreasing in India, as strict curfews implemented in the country earlier this year made it impossible for telemarketers to go to work, or utilise the equipment they need to carry out large scale spam campaigns,” it said.
Interestingly, India witnessed calls to emergency services increase by 148 per cent in the first three months of the lockdown. The Swedish company – which is known for helping users find out caller identity – has over 250 million users globally, of which over 180 million users are in India. The report said operators continue to be the top spammers in India with 52 per cent user calls received for the upselling of various offers and reminders. Telemarketing services accounted for 34 per cent share, followed by scam (9 per cent) and financial services (5 per cent). Gujarat emerged as the state that received the most spam calls in 2020, followed by Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, it added.
The report pointed out that 8 out of 10 women in India receive sexual harassment or inappropriate calls and SMS regularly. Truecaller said spam had reached its lowest point in April when strict curfews and lockdowns were implemented worldwide. The overall volume of calls also dipped during this period.
However, from this point, reports of scammers taking advantage of the uncertainty around the pandemic emerged. In May, spam calls started to pick up again and have been increasing on average by 9.7 per cent per month, it said. “October this year was the record high in terms of spam calls. It was 22.4 per cent higher compared to pre-lockdown,” it added. The biggest increase in spam calls was seen in the US and Europe – where Hungary saw the biggest jump (1,132 per cent), followed by Germany (685 per cent), Belgium (557 per cent) and Romania (395 per cent).