The new year has brought a new wave of nuisance calls to the UK as Britons have received more than 1.5 billion nuisance calls in 2021. The Telegraph recently dug into our data and talked to Hiya president Kush Parikh about the growing problem, and what can be done to stop it.
READ: The Telegraph — Britons face 9,000 scam calls every minute
Let’s start with the data. Our research team found that nuisance calls in the UK have exploded this year, rising from 251 million calls in January to more than 480 million calls in April, totaling an estimated monthly increase of 30%. What’s worse: Nearly 60% of these nuisance calls are likely fraudulent, meaning that scammers are attempting to steal people’s money and personal information.
Why has there been such a significant increase in nuisance calls? There are likely a few factors at play. First, fraudsters have recovered from the disruption caused by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Fraudsters have either returned to their calling centers, where they are able to make high volumes of calls at little cost, or they have adapted to working from home.
Another primary factor in this spike in nuisance calls is that fraudsters follow the money. They go where they are most successful and, as we’ve increasingly seen, that’s Europe. There are many reasons why European countries are more lucrative to fraudsters, but it boils down to the actions of carriers and regulatory bodies. In the United States, the largest carriers and the FCC have taken a variety of steps to stop fraud calls, including new policies and hefty fines. These measures make it more difficult for fraudsters to be successful. But carriers and regulatory bodies are yet to take similar bold actions in the UK, so fraudsters are faced with fewer barriers when attempting to scam the public.
Finally, pandemic-fueled confusion has created a prime opportunity for fraudsters. The confusion caused by things like tax deadline extensions, mortgage and rent deferrals, and even the COVID vaccine rollout allows fraudsters to exploit the public. In fact, we’ve seen this reflected in the top scams in the UK, which include a massive HMRC scam, the National Insurance number scam (similar to the social security scams in the US), and a high volume of COVID-related scams, including fraudsters demanding payment for COVID test results and vaccine appointments.
But the impact of nuisance calls goes far beyond the victim’s who get scammed. The end result is that people lose trust in the voice call. That’s why 94% of unknown calls go unanswered. This low answer rate makes it extremely difficult for legitimate businesses and organizations to reach people by phone, which has become increasingly important over the last year. Perhaps the worst side effect is that public health officials are struggling to reach people for COVID vaccine scheduling and testing, making an already challenging task even more difficult.
To help solve this problem, Hiya is offering its services for free to all UK organizations involved in vaccine scheduling and COVID contact tracing. This service will enable organizations to show their name, logo and call reason on the recipient’s device to increase pick-up rates and more effectively communicate with the public. Organizations interested in receiving this free service can register at hiya.com/uk-covid-vaccine-rollout.
Who is eligible for this program?
Hiya is making this service available at no cost through 2021 to UK organizations responsible for Covid-19 vaccination scheduling and Covid-19 contact tracing.
How do I get started?
Visit hiya.com/uk-covid-vaccine-rollout to sign up for Branded Calls. All it requires is a name, logo and a call reason. There is no additional work required for eligible organizations to get started.
Who is able to receive Branded Calls?
UK residents with a Samsung smartphone from between 2016 and 2021 can receive Branded Calls. Devices must have Samsung Smart Call activated—a free call protection and caller ID service provided by Samsung in collaboration with Hiya. Smart Call is currently activated on millions of Samsung devices throughout the UK.