Americans On Pace to Receive 157 Billion Spam Messages in 2021


Americans On Pace to Receive 157 Billion Spam Messages in 2021

Americans are on track to receive 71.5 billion spam calls and 86 billion spam texts in 2021, according to data from RoboKiller’s Mid-Year Phone Scam Report. These figures represent a 30% and 55% annual increase, respectively.

Unfortunately, this onslaught of unwanted calls and texts will result in significant losses for the victims. Scammers are projected to steal $716 million with these scams; $615 million by phone call and $101 million by text message. These projected financial losses mark a year-over-year increase of 40% and 18%, respectively.

Call & Text Scams in 2021: Key Findings and Takeaways

  • Car warranty phone scams will likely become the largest phone scam ever recorded by RoboKiller. This robocall category is twice the size of the next leading scam and has surpassed 2020’s leader, social security and IRS scams.
  • Bank verification and account login scams are likely to increase by 50% in 2021. Meanwhile, scammers are forecasted to rely heavily on delivery-related text scams, especially around the holiday season. 
  • STIR/SHAKEN (more on this below) will affect scammers’ ability to spoof phone calls, but that doesn’t mean consumers will receive less spam this year. As scammers adapt to new challenges, RoboKiller predicts scammers will rely more heavily on texts to the tune of a 55% increase in 2021. 

Read RoboKiller’s Mid-Year Phone Scam Report

A Look Back: Did 2020 Trends Extend Into 2021?

Spam calls grew at a rate of 30% per month from June through December of 2020. They reached their peak of 6.2 billion in October, just ahead of the Presidential election. Scammers pushed aggressively in the second half of 2020 to make up for lost ground following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Though the spike in robocalls observed in mid-late 2020 didn’t continue into 2021spam call volume grew just 5% per month in the first half of 2021Americans are nonetheless on track to receive 17 billion more spam calls this year than they did last year.

STIR/SHAKEN: Early Returns Are Mixed

Voice service providers had until June 30th, 2021 to implement STIR/SHAKEN, a set of protocols outlined by the FCC to combat caller ID spoofing (when a caller disguises their identity to deceive the recipient). RoboKiller observed a 5% decrease in spoofed calls in July, followed by a 4% increase in August, indicating that its effect thus far has been negligible.

Though STIR/SHAKEN is off to a slow startlargely because small carriers have until mid-2023 to adopt the frameworkwe do expect it to ultimately prove useful in decreasing the frequency of spoofed calls. Even so, it’s unlikely to stop the spam call problem on its own.

Spam calls that utilize caller ID spoofing represent approximately 37% of all spam calls thus far in 2021, a number which is projected to drop to 30% by December 2021, though, it’s off to a slow start. RoboKiller identified a 5% decrease in spoofed calls in July, but August saw a 4% increase in spoofed calls. The future of STIR/SHAKEN’s impact has been negligible so far, we do eventually expect to see a 5-10% decrease in caller id spoofing.


Spam Text Messages Rise Amid STIR/SHAKEN Rollout

In August, spammers sent 20% more text messages than they made spam calls. Even though STIR/SHAKEN is showing mixed returns thus far, it’s likely had an effect on scammers in that they’re seeking workarounds to reach potential targets. 

Based on trends observed between April and June 2021, we can expect that STIR/SHAKEN will drive a roughly 5% average monthly increase in total spam texts for the remainder of 2021 as scammers pivot portions of their operations to new mediums.

Is 2021 the Year of the Spam Text?

Spammers are using text messages as a key way to reach consumers more frequently. That’s because text messages have a higher engagement rate and have proven an effective way to scam people.

According to RoboKiller’s Mid-Year Phone Scam Report, consumers can expect to receive a 55% increase in spam text messages from 2020’s 55 billion. This could result in $101 million in projected financial lossesan 18% increase from 2020. 

As scammers refine their tactics, consumers can expect to suffer more significant financial losses. We saw this from 2019 to 2020, when Americans reported a 28% increase in total financial losses to spam text messages$86 million in 2020 compared to 2019’s $67 million. 

Evaluating 2021 Spam Text Trends 

RoboKiller believes the 5% average growth rate in spam text messages from January to March 2021 reflects a pattern that smartphone users can expect to hold for the remainder of the year. STIR/SHAKEN will likely contribute to the 5% increase in spam text messages as spammers pivot their efforts to new mediums. 

Spam text trends in 2021 show that spammers continue to target consumers with relevant scams related to current events. COVID-19 vaccination, contact tracing, and other related text scams will likely increase by more than 100% in 2021 to 1 billion annual texts, up from an estimated 420 million in 2020. 

We believe spam text messages have the potential to become the next robocall problem (or bigger) if measures aren’t taken to stop scammers before they can take advantage of this blindspot. Luckily, RoboKiller already has a text blocking solution that is 95% effective at blocking spam text messages. RoboKiller continues to invest heavily in developing technology to prevent the spam text problem from becoming the next robocall problem. 

How RoboKiller Stops Spam Calls

Since its launch in 2017, RoboKiller has advocated against phone fraud, helped shut down scam operations, and invested heavily in robust spam text and spam call blocking technology to stop dangerous scams from reaching consumers. In 2020, RoboKiller prevented over $37.7M in consumer losses to phone fraud, wasted over 104 million minutes of scammers’ time, and blocked more than 200 million spam calls. 

RoboKiller’s powerful spam call and SMS blocker algorithm prevents dangerous phone scams and text messages from reaching Americans nationwide. Here are the benefits of downloading RoboKiller onto your Android or iPhone

  • 99% spam call and text message blocking success rate.
  • Get revenge on phone scammers with “Answer Bots”—hilarious pre-recorded messages that give fraudsters a taste of their own medicine!
  • Decide which calls RoboKiller should flag as spam with personalized blacklists and whitelists.
  • Never miss calls from relatives, friends, co-workers, and genuine organizations. 

RoboKiller is the No.1 app for fighting phone and SMS spam.  Start your 7-day free trial now!

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