SA fifth on spam calls global top 20

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Truecaller reveals the top 20 countries affected by spam calls in 2017.
Truecaller reveals the top 20 countries affected by spam calls in 2017.

South Africa is in the top five in the world when it comes to the amount of spam calls local consumers receive.

This is according to the "Truecaller Insights Top 20 Countries Affected by Spam Calls in 2017" report, which showed SA was in fifth place when it comes to the number of spam calls users get each month.

The spam filtering mobile app says annoying and unwanted spam calls are on the rise around the globe and in some large markets the average Truecaller user receives more than 20 spam calls each month.

The country with the highest number of spam calls is India, where consumers receive an average of 22.6 spam calls a month. Next is the US and Brazil, both with an average of 20.7 calls per month, followed by Chile with 17.4 and then SA with an average of 15.

SA is not the only African nation on the list. Nigeria and Egypt also make it into the top 10, in ninth and tenth place respectively, while Morocco and Kenya round out the list in 19th and 20th place.

Headquartered in Sweden, Truecaller was founded in 2009. The app allows users to identify unknown incoming calls and block calls and messages they do not want to receive.

The data used in the report was aggregated anonymously from incoming calls that either were marked as spam by users or automatically flagged by Truecaller during the period of 1 January to 31 May 2017. During this time, Truecaller users received over 5.5 billion spam calls.

The study found that globally there are common categories that tie all spam calls together ? with some of the most common occurring being local scam calls, telemarketing and debt collection calls, as well as unsolicited finance and insurance product offerings.

To identify the type of spam calls users received most often, Truecaller looked at the top 100 spammers in each region for the month of May.

African spammers

"Spam calls are big business in SA, as the direct marketing industry reported employing more than 150 000 workers, with the average call centre agent logging around 1 600 calls on a monthly basis," Truecaller says in a statement.

Collectively, South Africans are bombarded by tens of thousands of spam calls each day, with app users identifying over 8.5 million local spam calls on a monthly basis.

The report found SA has a fairly even spread when it comes to who is spamming consumers, with telemarketing leading the way, making up 39% of spam calls, and financial services at 24% and insurance at 13%.

Telemarketing includes promotional calls from companies, surveys being done by analytics firms on behalf of clients, political/robo calls, or new client outreach for services and subscriptions.

Unlike Kenya and Nigeria, SA only has 1% of its local calls marked as scam calls. In comparison, in Kenya scam calls make up a whopping 91% of the reported spam calls, while in Nigeria it's around 10%. Scam calls are usually fraud attempts via telephone, with scammers using a phoney scheme to try con money out of unsuspecting members of the public.

For Kenya, the rest of the listed spam calls were constituted by financial services such as banking product offers, unsolicited credit union calls or credit card companies cold calling people. Kenyans receive an average of 7.7 spam calls per month compared to South Africans who receive 15 per month.

For Nigeria, telcos are the biggest spammers. The report found 61% of reported spam calls are from telecoms operators cold calling people and trying to upsell data plans or push promotional offers to the public at large. In SA, operators make up 8% of spam calls.

Another major spam problem Nigerians deal with is nuisance calls, which make up 27% of reported spam calls. Truecaller describes these kinds of spam calls as unwanted and unsolicited calls that are a disturbance, or at the very least amount to prank calls and at worst, harassment. In Nigeria, telemarketing calls make up only around 2% of spam calls.

As a way to counter spammers within SA, the Direct Marketing Association of SA enables people to add themselves onto the National Opt-out Database ? which means members of this association can't contact you.

Truecaller says over 250 million people around the world use its app to block calls and SMSes and report spammers.

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