Fraud calls around the globe were analyzed in a recent report by Hiya. According to the report, there were 7.3 billion unwanted calls globally in Q3 2023, up from 6.55 billion in Q3. The number of spam calls peaked at 357 million the week after Thanksgiving, when U.S. consumers are shopping, distracted and therefore particularly vulnerable to scams.
American consumers in Q4 received an average of 15 spam calls per month, which was higher than all the European countries listed in the report but not as high as some countries in South America. The U.S.’s spam rate for the quarter was a relatively high 29% but 1% of those unwanted calls are fraud, giving it one of the lowest fraud rates in the world. Most fraud calls in the U.S. are blocked by the carrier at the network level, so they never reach consumers.
The most commonly reported scams targeting Americans in Q4 involved Medicare, insurance, taxes, Amazon, credit cards, relief (debt relief, tax relief, etc.) and payment platform apps such as Venmo, PayPal, Zelle and Cash App. While many of the scams remained steady throughout the quarter, Medicare and health insurance scams spiked during the health care open enrollment period, which runs from late October to early December each year.
Residents of France and Spain received the same number of unwanted calls each month: an average of 10 per person. But in Q4, France overtook Spain as the European country with the highest spam rate, hitting 47%. The most prolific phone scam in France in Q4 impersonated the French electric utility company, EDF Energy. With this scam, imposters lure victims with government-funded energy subsidies, solar panel installation and other schemes to save money on energy costs. Also popular were scams impersonating bank officials and ploys to cheat citizens out of their Compte Personnel de Formation funds, which are provided by the French government to pay for professional training.
Scam calls impersonating banks were the most-reported type of fraud in Spain during Q4; insurance scams came in a close second. Package delivery and cryptocurrency scams were also common in Spain, as they are in many other countries. Also making the list were family member scams, in which fraudsters posed as a daughter, son, grandchild or other family member in trouble and in need of an urgent money transfer.
U.K. residents received four spam calls per person each month in Q4, according to the report. The U.K.’s spam rate of 28% was about the same as the U.S., but it gets more fraud calls. Common in Q4 were HMRC tax scams and Amazon imposter scams.
Read the full report here.