Truecaller has become almost indispensable in day-to-day South African life. In an ideal world, we'd be able to mark actual people as spam in real life too, and just go about our day in Kardashian-free bliss. Unfortunately, we're not quite there yet, and even keeping our phones void of annoyance has proven challenging.
Findings from the latest Truecaller Insights Report show that South Africa is the fourth most spammed country in the world, beaten only by Chile, India and Brazil – which took the number one spot.
Unsolicited nuisance calls are on the rise all around the globe in general, and as it currently stands, the average South African receives up to 21 irritating, pointless spam calls a month. This is a massive 40% increase from last year's findings. Almost every fourth call you receive is spam, in one way or another.
They want your money, and the sick desperation is more evident than ever.
So where are all these calls coming from? According to Truecaller, almost half (49%) of all spam calls in South Africa are scam related. This commonly takes the form of tech support fraud, in which some foul criminal will pretend to be calling from your bank or another company claiming that your account has been hacked, and will need your help (personal details) to get the situation under control.
Another is the classic job offer scam, in which some good-for-nothing lowlife calls you up, pretending to be a headhunter or employment agent, to offer you a too-good-to-be-true job. This will involve you paying a fee in order to secure that imaginary job.
And then we get the one ring scam, of course, in which a filthy degenerate calls you from an unknown international number and hangs up. When you, inquisitive goose that you are, call that number back, you incur hefty phonecall charges.
Next up we have telemarketing, which is one of the most annoying, infuriating things that could happen to you. It's somewhere between getting your socks wet and listening to Pitbull trying to cover Toto's 'Africa.'
38% of all spam calls in South Africa are due to merciless telemarketing, followed by 11% operator calls and surprisingly, only 2% financial services.
Whether it be unwanted SMS messages, a ceaseless barrage of phone calls at the most inconvenient of times or thousands of email newsletters – which you didn't sign up for – clogging up your inbox, spam remains a very real, invasive annoyance in our modern lives.
Thankfully, there's always a way to get rid of them. The Truecaller app, for one, all ows you to both identify and block all unwanted calls and messages. Over 250 million people are using the app today, which just goes to show how fed up we all are.
Of course, you get companies that will call you thirty times in the space of two hours from twenty different numbers to entice you with a braai kit, or something, and get you to sign up for whatever thing you actually didn't want at all – and therein lies some admin. Blocking each and every number, one at a time, but it's worth it.
Also, it's worth checking if the company harassing you with constant SMS marketing terrorism is a member of WASPA. If you reply STOP to such an SMS, and the WASPA-member company continues to bombard you with spam, you can lay a complaint.
If the company isn't a member of WASPA, you can also check the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA) database. If the offending company is a member of the DMASA, you can register on the organisation's National Opt-Out Database to have your number removed.
Unfortunately, if the company isn't a member of WASPA or the DMASA, it is not subject to any of their rules. You may have to go all the way to the National Consumer Commission to report them.
It really is a huge problem…
But hey, at least they're not debt collectors. That's a whole different ballgame.