A new wave of nuisance calls has hit 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
The rise in nuisance calls in the UK
Let’s start with the data. Our research team found that nuisance calls in the UK began to explode in 2021, 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.
What caused the rise in nuisance calls?
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 by either returning to their calling centers to make high volumes of calls at little cost or adapting 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; 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 various 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 face fewer barriers when attempting to scam the public.
Finally, pandemic-fueled confusion created a prime opportunity for fraudsters. The confusion caused by tax deadline extensions, mortgage and rent deferrals, and even the COVID-19 vaccine rollout allowed 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 victims who get scammed. The result is that people need more 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 struggle to reach people for COVID-19 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-19 contact tracing. This initiative aims to improve call answer rates by displaying the calling organization's name, logo, and the reason for the call on the recipient's device. Eligible organizations can quickly sign up for this service with just their name, logo, and call reason by registering at hiya.com/uk-covid-vaccine-rollout, with no extra setup required.
Who can 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.
How to fight back against scam
While these emerging scams are infiltrating the UK, Hiya offers a variety of solutions to fight back. Individuals can check with their phone carrier to see if they offer spam/scam-blocking capabilities. If they do and spam and fraud calls are still getting through, download the Hiya App to take more control of your spam and fraud call protection.
Carriers can protect customers from phone scams by adding Hiya Protect, which blocks or labels spam and scam calls with high accuracy without blocking essential calls. Not only does it block or label known spam numbers, but Hiya Protect identifies spammers' patterns and blocks spam campaigns in their earliest stages.
Enterprises can also help their customers feel safe when answering the phone by adding Hiya Connect, which enables businesses to display their company name, logo, and reason for the call on the recipient’s mobile phone. Branded caller ID identifies who is calling so customers can trust who is on the other end when they answer.
According to Hiya’s State of the Call 2023, 87% of consumers think unidentified calls are fraud. Get through to more of your customers with call identity.
When evaluating branded caller ID solutions, there are a few questions you should ask. Get the full list and make the best decision for your organization by checking out our Branded Call Checklist and Buyer's Guide.