For the fourth year in a row, Brazilians have been the world’s largest recipient of “random” phone calls – calls that often come from unknown numbers and offer unsolicited products or services.
This appears in the new version of the Truecaller app’s global report, which identifies and blocks this type of communication.
In 2021 (looking from January 1 to October 31), Brazil recorded an average of 32.9 unwanted calls per user per month.
Other countries in the ranking have much lower numbers, including Peru in second place, which has 18 spam calls per user per month.
The report, made available to BBC News, said Brazil was a “separate case”.
“Saying that Brazil has a problem with spam is simplistic. Four consecutive years as the country most affected by spam should serve as a warning to local authorities to adopt severe restrictions and fines on these activities,” the survey by Truecaller states. Founded in 2009 in Sweden.
In the previous report, as of 2020, the number of spam calls received per user per month in Brazil was even higher: 49.9. In other words, there was a 34% decrease this year compared to the past.
Brazil topped the rankings in 2018, 2019, 2020 and now in 2021.
In the 2021 report, most spam calls (44%) in Brazil were classified as coming from financial services such as banks, credit card companies and loans.
Then come calls related to sales (39%), a category that includes product displays, various promotions and subscriptions. Finally, 16.9% of calls were deemed “fraudulent” which is a scam attempt.
These ratings are made in cooperation with the users of the application, who record phone numbers and other information about incoming and unwanted calls.
In addition to Brazil and Peru, it emerged from third place onwards in the 2021 ranking: Ukraine; India, Mexico; Indonesia; Chile; Vietnam; South Africa; Russia; Colombia; Spain; Ecuador; Turkey; Italia; Honduras. Costa Rica; Greece; The United Arab Emirates; and the United States.
Most of the 20 countries appearing in the ranking scored less than 15 monthly calls per user, less than half of the Brazilian score of 32.9.
In the mentioned period, 37.8 billion spam calls were blocked and identified worldwide, by nearly 300 million users.
According to the company, this volume is increasing annually and is related to three factors: the increase in the number of smartphones, adherence to applications, the increase in the number of spam calls made by companies, and the like.
“This remains a global problem, and the reason spam and fraud activities continue to exist is that they are very profitable and require little effort and consequences,” the report says.
In recent years, technological advances have made it easier for companies to make calls – and at the same time, they have made the daily lives of those receiving these unwanted calls more difficult.
Some of these technologies are automatic dialers, which run calls to multiple phone lines at the same time; VoIP, which allows making phone calls over the Internet; and scammers, who change or hide the numbers that appear in the caller ID.
Although Brazil is a “separate chapter,” the Truecaller report says, different countries have problems with this type of activity.
The survey reveals that in 2021, just one phone number caused 202 million spam calls in India, affecting 27,000 people every hour in the country.
On the other hand, African countries have a special problem with spam SMS, and they top the rankings for this type of communication: first comes Cameroon, followed by Somalia, Tanzania, Congo, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Benin. Brazil appears in eighth place in this ranking.
Calculating spam calls and messages for each person helps balance factors such as the largest volume of app users by country – otherwise, a country with many consumers in absolute numbers will soon rise in the rankings.
However, Truecaller’s press office clarified that some factors can affect the data, such as a greater presence in a country for Android, where the app is more friendly; The tendency of residents to report annoying calls in the application.
Learn how to block and block telemarketing calls
“Telemarketing makes Brazilians and Brazilians stop answering the phone”
The report asks the authorities to take measures for such an issue in Brazil, and what the country’s main reaction today has been the national and state registries in which users record that they do not want to receive telemarketing calls.
Não Me Perturbe is a national registry launched in 2019 by the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) in partnership with telecom companies (mobile, landlines, pay TV, Internet) and banks in the payroll sector (loans operations and payroll loans with credit cards).
Once registered, the user must stop receiving calls from these companies within 30 calendar days.
State records of this type are usually managed by Procons, consumer protection and defense agencies. Companies from various sectors that do not respect these lists may be administratively prosecuted by these bodies and eventually fined.
Anatel’s press office also informed the article that from 2022, one code – 0303 – will be applied for telemarketing calls in the telecoms sector. In other words, companies asking for this purpose should display this number, so that the people receiving the calls can more easily identify it as telemarketing.
Implementation will be gradual: mobile service providers must do so within 90 days, and landline operators, within 180 days.
Diogo Moises, program coordinator for communications and digital rights at the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection (Idec), says records and code provision are “appreciable” measures, but insufficient to deal with the size of the affected population and loopholes in the techniques companies adopt when making spam calls.
One limitation he points out is that only a small portion of people are able and willing to register with national and state registries.
“State listings are valid for all economic sectors, but they are heterogeneous. You cannot think, for example, that a funeral service selling apartments would have the same level of regulation as the telecommunications sector,” Moyes adds.
“Even a sector that has gone self-regulatory (with the national registry) cannot control its sales sectors, which are often outsourced or quartered. This is evident in both telecommunications operators, who admit this, especially in the particular credit sector. Even after joining Não Perturbe, it is only growing in the number of complaints.”
“You have to reverse the logical order of thinking and give the consumer the right he deserves – that is not the right to be on the block list.”
The Idec coordinator clarifies that there is no specific national law on abusive telemarketing, but existing rules, such as the General Personal Data Protection Act (LGPD), allow for an interpretation that the practice is illegal – right from its inception, with the illegal access to leaked data.
“It’s a corrupt ecosystem that starts with illegal databases and ends with harassment, if not criminal harassment.”
“The law is very clear that you need a legal basis for using personal data, and a phone number is unambiguous personal data. The right of the user, the data subject, is not to block his phone number. You do not receive calls to view products and services, unless you agree to do so” .
Telemarketing should use the prefix 0303
Moyses advocates creating specific legislation on abusive telemarketing in line with the General Data Protection Act (LGPD) or that regulators, such as the National Data Protection Authority, make decisions that direct penalties for companies that contact people without consent.
The respondent cites a September report in the regional newspaper RJTV, on TV Globo, showing that the São Francisco Hospital in Providencia de Dios, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, was having difficulty informing patients of the possibility of benefiting from organ donation because people struggled with it. Don’t answer the phone.
“Telemarketing causes all Brazilians to stop answering the phone. This is not secondary. We are simply canceling the voice service in the name of protecting economic sectors and marketing practices that are totally unethical and illegal,” Moyes concludes.
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