RoboKiller Releases 2021 Phone Scam Report

Americans Received 160 Billion Unwanted Messages in 2021, a 45% Increase

RoboKiller, the app that eliminates 99% of spam calls and text messages, today released its 2021 Phone Scam Insights report. The report reveals Americans received 87.8 billion spam text messages and 72.2 billion spam calls, annual increases of 58% and 32%, respectively.

Spam text messages were the big story in 2021, as they surpassed spam calls by more than 15 billion. This marked the second consecutive year scammers relied on texts more than calls to reach consumers. RoboKiller believes this is a concerted effort by scammers to address declining call answer rates (75% of millennials would rather text than call) and new STIR/SHAKEN regulations designed to curb caller ID spoofing.

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According to RoboKiller, the vast majority of phone scams go unreported to the FTC. In 2021, RoboKiller estimates Americans lost $40 billion to phone scams. During this time, RoboKiller’s advanced spam call & text protection helped to prevent upwards of $100 million in financial losses for its users.

Call & Text Scams: Key Findings & Takeaways

  • Scam text messages outpaced scam calls (87.8 billion vs. 72.2 billion) for the second year in a row. The disparity, however, was narrower in 2020 (55.4 billion vs. 54.6 billion).
  • In 2021, Americans received 12 billion vehicle warranty scams. This is the largest robocall on record since RoboKiller began tracking scam calls in 2017. It is statistically possible that every American received at least one vehicle warranty scam call in 2021.
  • Delivery-related scam text messages were especially prominent in 2021, making up 26% of all scam texts. Scammers like to predict people’s purchasing habits. As a result, messages containing links to track packages or adjust delivery preferences flooded American phones.
  • The FCC’s STIR/SHAKEN mandate has yet to make a dent in spoofed call rates since its June 30, 2021 implementation deadline. In fact, calls originating from spoofed caller IDs remained in the vicinity of 40% nearly every month in 2021.

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2021 KEY PHONE SCAM TRENDS

Top Five Most Spam Texted States

State

Total Estimated Spam Texts

Texas

10,095,771,312

California

9,093,288,416

 New York

7,866,422,408

Florida

4,711,701,088

Ohio

4,004,379,666

Top Five Most Spam Called States

State

Total Estimated Spam Calls

Texas

8,895,603,622

California

7,113,989,672

Florida

4,873,590,078

Ohio

3,142,198,567

Georgia

2,973,724,407

Scammers frequently targeted densely populated states like TexasCaliforniaFlorida, and Ohio with phone spam in 2021. On a per capita basis, however, states with smaller populations were also notable targets. West Virginia and Arkansas led the way in spam texts and spam calls per person, respectively.

Top Five Text Scams, 2021

Category

Estimated Spam Texts

Delivery

23,076,811,343

COVID-19

5,696,455,112

Bank

3,071,087,772

Apple + Hardware Sweepstakes

2,601,735,612

Healthcare

1,060,272,839

Top Five Robocall Scams, 2021

Category

Estimated Spam Texts

Vehicle Warranty

12,995,413,910

Health Insurance

3,106,185,648

Religious

3,041,172,460

Social Security

2,961,711,897

Student Loans

2,802,790,771

With nearly 40% of Americans lacking the funds to cover a $400 emergency, a loss to a robocall or text message scam can cause significant financial hardship. In 2020, the average phone scam stole nearly $1,200, according to the FTC (total 2021 data is not available as of the time of this writing).

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