T-Mobile identified or blocked 21 billion scam calls in 2021, but attempts still hit an all-time high

T-Mobile in its year-end report on scams and robocalls said it successfully identified or blocked over 21 billion scam calls, or roughly 700 calls every second, in 2021. The bad news is that despite the efforts, attempted scam call traffic hit an all-time high through early December.

Scammer operations were seemingly impacted by worldwide quarantine shutdowns in 2020 but started ramping back up this year. In January, T-Mobile identified 1.1 billion calls as Scam Likely. By November, the volume had more than doubled to 2.5 billion calls.

On average, scam call attempts are coming in at a rate of around 425 million every week, and are up 116 percent this year compared to 2020. Top targets for scammers include those living in Arizona, Texas, Florida and Georgia.

Curiously enough, call volume drops by an average of 80 percent on the weekends and also slows during the holidays. Given how lucrative scams can be, I’m surprised call center operators don’t have people working 24/7/365.

According to a recent report from Truecaller, roughly 23 percent of Americans lost money as a result of phone scams over the trailing 12 months. The average amount lost was $502, which is up from $351 in 2020, and equates to an estimated net loss of $29.8 billion over a one-year period. For comparison, Americans collectively lost $19.7 billion to phone scams.

One surefire way to avoid scam calls? If you don’t recognize the number calling you, don’t answer it. Simple as that.