No matter where we are or what we are doing, unwanted calls from unknown numbers just seem to disrupt our day at the most inconvenient time.
Unfortunately, these disruptive calls can be more than just a waste of time, they can also pose a dangerous threat to our personal information and finances if not dealt with properly.
Just in the last year, the FTC reported that phone calls have become the most-used channel for conducting scams with a total of $30 billion dollars lost to phone scams in the US alone. (Source: FTC).
In addition to this, scam callers have also developed more intelligent methods to con us by doing their research on victims before calling. As this has helped them increase their chances of duping us: “In 2019, of those who lost $1,000 or more to a phone scam, 75% claimed the caller already possessed critical personal information prior to the call (Source: FirstOrion).”
Although it might seem daunting, staying up to date with the common signs and tricks that scammers use can help you to stay safe!
At the end of 2021, T-Mobile released a report to share some of the most common phone scams and tricks to pay attention to.
1. ‘Neighborhood’ calls (Spoofing)
More and more scammers are attempting to call from local numbers to appear more legitimate. This scam method is known as ‘Neighborhood Spoofing’. Scammers will disguise their number using your area code or a very similar one so that you would be more likely to answer the call.
Certain states have been found to be more heavily targeted than others using this spoofing method. T-Mobile reported that Texas, Florida, Arizona and Georgia were among the highest to receive neighborhood spoof scam calls.
2. Legitimate businesses scams (fake auto warranties)
If you've ever received an out-of-the-blue call from someone regarding your “car’s warranty” then you will already be quite familiar with this scam trick. T-mobile reported that this scam was the most common In 2021, making up 51% of all scam call attempts.
“Other common fake business scam calls were from individuals pretending to represent car insurance companies (6%), social security (10%), wireless providers (9%) and package delivery (4%)” (Source: USAToday).
These calls can often begin with a robocall instructing you to press a number and stay on the line, this validates that your number is genuine. Once a person is able to talk to you they will often already have some personal details about your car or warranty which makes them seem even more legitimate.
3. Time of year: tax season and health care scams
Scammers are constantly updating their methods and attempt to capitalize on seasonal events to improve their tactics.
The same can be said with the current tax season, as scammers will often use our anxiety surrounding their taxes against us.
Here are some things you should be aware of in order to stay protected from these kinds of calls (Source: USAToday):
know that generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
They also won’t call about an unexpected tax refund.
If you receive a call requesting immediate payment in the form of gift cards, threatening to bring in law enforcement for unpaid bills, or demanding payment without a bill or opportunity to question the amount, stay alert – it’s likely a scam.
In addition to this, Healthcare scams began to gain a lot of traction during Medicare’s open enrollment season for health insurance in fall and winter.
The FCC issued a $225 million fine – the largest in its history – in 2021 to a Texas-based telemarketer for robocalls falsely claiming to represent major health insurance companies (Source: USAToday).
4. Technical support calls
The final method that phone scammers have been using is through fake tech support calls.
The scammers goal of these calls is to gain access to your phone or computer to steal your data or plant malicious code on them.
Here’s what to watch out for (Source: USAToday):
Fake technical support calls will often begin with the scammer saying they’re with a well-known company, for example from Microsoft or Amazon tech support, and that an issue has been detected with your device.
From there, they’ll walk you through various steps to “fix” your phone or computer. Don’t be fooled – scammers who pull this trick will be attempting to install dangerous software used to obtain your data.
What can you do to stop these scammers?
Statistics show that there is no clear end in sight for the world’s growing phone-scam problem. As scammers quickly adapt to more discreet and harder-to-stop methods, telecommunications companies and governments have struggled to address the issue.
This is why we created Genie, the world’s first AI anti-scam assistant that screens incoming calls to tell you who is calling and why.
Genie can quickly identify complex patterns in scam calls to determine the true intent of any given call better than any existing solution.
HOW GENIE WORKS TO PROTECT YOU:
Genie is your artificial intelligence assistant who evaluates all incoming calls, politely chats with the caller, and lets you know who's calling and why. Genie gives you the power to reclaim your phone by filtering out all scammers and harassing telemarketers.
1. Incoming calls from known contacts?
Genie doesn’t intervene, letting them straight through.
2. Incoming calls from known scammers or telemarketers?
Genie blocks them automatically, so you don't get bothered.
3. Incoming calls from anyone else? (e.g. local delivery person or doctor)
Genie screens them, notifies you who’s calling and why, and allows you to decide who gets through.
Try Genie for yourself:
If you're interested in becoming a Genie Early Access user, click here to apply: https://www.lifesgenie.com/join-genie-beta-program
Please share this information to keep others protected from these scams!