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An industry estimate by Akin Mobile – a South African based company that provides phone carriers and their customers’ caller ID and call blocking technology says almost twenty five (25) percent of all cell-phone calls to Botswana in 2020 will come from scammers.
The mobile firm also says their projections over the past three years show that there has been an explosion of incoming spam calls from 13 percent in 2018 to more than 19 percent in 2019, to a projected 25 percent by early 2020.Whilst mobile scam phone calls are not new, what has caught the attention of the industry is the pace with which these scams are gaining traction in the country and increasingly invade people’s privacy at new extremes.
Although there are now several apps that are able to block calls from known scammers, Akin Mobile says“such apps are ineffectual if fraudulent callers use numbers that aren’t already blacklisted”. The bombardment of scam calls has taken a more dire turn in recent months as scammers have targeted taxpayers with calls claiming that they owe the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) money and are urged to pay through a wire transfer.
The scammers use telephone numbers that mimic actual BURS assistance centres, claim to be representatives and use fake names and phony badge numbers. Following the ever increasing menace of robo-calls, there are now calls for Parliament to take steps toward cracking down on scammers who steal Batswanas’ personal information. However Akin Technology says “technological, rather than legal, solutions hold more water since telecom companies should be able to come up with strategies to block scammers before they reach consumers and to unmask their spoofed numbers.’’
Akin Mobile also says Botswana mobile carriers should incorporate new call authentication technology in their networks such as SHAKES that can verify if a call is coming from a real, operable number. “This serves as a warning to customers whenever they’re receiving a suspicious call,” said Akin Mobile in their report.