Spam calls have become obnoxious as of late for many people - myself included - and it looks like they are only going to get worse. First Orion Corporation, which provides spam call filters to carriers, estimates that 44.56% of all calls in 2019 will be spam.

The company reports that 29.2% of calls are spam in 2018, an exponential rise from 3.7% in 2017. 'Neighborhood spoofing,' where the scammer's phone number appears to have the same area code as the recipient, is especially common. Spam blockers are useless against these types of calls, since the scammer can just change the number to something else and try again.

None of this is really surprising, but it's interesting to see hard numbers about the growing trend. The company hopes that machine learning can eventually be used to detect and block these calls at the network level, but the problem still won't go away anytime soon.

Press Release

LOS ANGELESSept. 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Mobile World Congress -- First Orion, a leading provider of phone call and data transparency solutions, today announced their inaugural 2018 Scam Call Trends and Projections Report, detailing the need for new, adaptive technologies to combat the exponential increase in scam calls. First Orion powers call protection solutions to tens of millions of mobile subscribers in the U.S. market and has carefully analyzed over 50 billion calls made to these customers over the past 18 months. By combining specific call patterns and behaviors with other phone number attributes, First Orion now predicts that nearly half of all calls to mobile phones will be fraudulent in 2019 unless the industry adopts and implements more effective call protection solutions.

To combat this rapidly growing epidemic, First Orion will fully deploy its groundbreaking, in-network technology known as CallPrinting™—which quickly and accurately identifies new scam techniques and thwarts fraudulent calls—into a Tier-One U.S. carrier's network this fall where the company projects it will significantly mitigate the volume of scam traffic beginning in the 4th quarter of 2018.

Over the past year, First Orion's data shows a drastic increase in mobile scam calls—from 3.7% of total calls in 2017 to 29.2% in 2018—and that number is projected to reach 44.6% by early 2019.

There are a number of techniques scammers use to get people to pick up the phone, but the most popular method is known as "Neighborhood Spoofing," which happens when a scammer disguises their phone number and displays it as a local number on a user's caller ID. For example, a scammer may spoof their phone number to match the area code and 3-digit prefix of the person they are targeting and ultimately increase the likelihood of someone answering.

Not only is this tactic harmful towards the person being called, the owner of the phone number used to make the call is often subjected to return calls from the recipient of the scam call. These return calls come as surprises since the owner of the number used to make the scam call is not aware a call was ever placed from their number, leading to frustration and confusion amongst all parties.

Third-party call blocking apps are largely ineffective when it comes to detecting spoof calls since they can only black-list against known scam numbers, not legitimate numbers that are momentarily hijacked by scammers. First Orion's highly innovative CallPrinting solution provides real-time decisions on incoming calls, intelligent analysis of phone call and network-wide data and an adaptable machine-learning based framework to stop the "next" scammer and spoofing tactic.

"Year after year, the scam call epidemic bombards consumers at record-breaking levels, surpassing the previous year and scammers increasingly invade our privacy at new extremes," said Charles D. Morgan, CEO and Head Data Scientist of First Orion. "Recently, the FCC joined forces with several technology companies, including First Orion, to find a way to combat these calls, but we still see rampant increases. After working closely with several carriers, we've found that in-network solutions that leverage sophisticated data analysis and machine learning are by far the most accurate way to pinpoint the origin of a call and identify it before it reaches your phone."

Over the past several years, the rise of illegal robocalls has garnered the attention of both lawmakers and consumers alike. In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission prioritized their initiative to end the scourge of illegal robocalls and adopted a new set of rules designed to protect consumers from unwanted robocalls, allowing phone companies to proactively block calls that are likely fraudulent because they originate from certain types of phone numbers. In April 2018, First Orion testified before Congress at the "Do Not Call: Combatting Robocalls and Caller ID Spoofing" hearing in Washington, D.C. on this issue. The official testimony can be viewed here.

To request the 2018 Scam Call Trends and Projections Report, please email us at [email protected].

About First Orion
First Orion powers call management and transparency solutions for T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Sky, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint Prepaid mobile networks as well as TracFone, NET10 Wireless, Total Wireless, Straight Talk, and Simple Mobile along with PrivacyStar applications for all smartphones. First Orion currently provides call control, call blocking, call transparency and call management solutions to millions of mobile handsets. First Orion's Engage™ technology tells mobile subscribers who is calling and why, empowering them with the ability to take action. With branded and white-labeled applications as well as in-network solutions, First Orion assists phone carriers in protecting mobile and fixed line subscribers by identifying and stopping millions of scam calls every day. For more information, please visit www.firstorion.com.