Your Neighbor is Calling but Not to Spread Holiday Cheer
SEATTLE, WA–(Marketwired – December 19, 2017) – Hiya, the global leader in phone spam protection, today announced the release of their 2017 Robocall Radar Report, reviewing data from the more than 3.5 billion calls and texts the company analyzes each month to reveal the top phone scams. The results show that unwanted calls to U.S. consumers overall have increased by a whopping 76 percent in 2017 to 18 billion, up from over 10 billion last year, and the most prevalent type of scam currently targeting Americans is the Neighbor Scam.
The Neighbor Scam, deemed “Scam Tactic of the Year” by Hiya, grew in prevalence by a shocking 750 percent this year. With this new tactic, which has been widely adopted since early 2016, phone fraudsters use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software to mimic (also known as spoofing) the first six digits of a user’s phone number — the area code and the following three digits — to trick consumers into thinking a nearby friend or business is calling. Based on 2 billion calls flagged as spam by Hiya since the beginning of the year, Hiya estimates that one in three reports from Hiya users reference the Neighbor Scam.
“Scammers are constantly creating new ways to trick consumers into picking up the phone, and this time that involves spoofing local numbers,” said Jonathan Nelson, Senior Product Manager, Reputation Data of Hiya. “While many consumers now know to be wary of unknown callers, the latest threat comes disguised as a number similar to their own, dramatically increasing the likelihood that someone would answer the call.”
Consumers should be aware of common scam techniques that fraudsters leveraging the neighbor scam use once they have someone on the line:
- Scare tactics – Scammers will make consumers believe that there is a warrant out for their arrest or that they inadvertently owe the IRS money in order to scare consumers into providing them with personal or financial information.
- Immediate demand of payment – Scammers create a sense of urgency so consumers believe they need to pay immediately or suffer dire consequences.
- Unusual forms of payment - The most common methods of payment demanded by scammers are wire transfers, debit cards, and gift cards (i.e., iTunes, grocery stores, etc).
The data Hiya collected throughout the year also identified the most common area codes being spoofed in the Neighbor Scam:
1. 404 – Atlanta, GA
2. 407 – Orlando, FL
3. 214 – Dallas, TX
4. 203 – Connecticut (Southwest region)
5. 210 – San Antonio, TX
6. 423 – Tennessee (Eastern region)
7. 817 – Fort Worth, TX
8. 678 – Atlanta, GA
9. 770 – Atlanta, GA
10. 813 – Tampa, FL
The Neighbor Scam was far from the only tactic being used to defraud consumers this year. Based on its real-time analysis that identifies spammers in minutes, Hiya rounded out the top five scams of the year, which also include:
- The Utility Scam (aka “Most Consistent Scam of the Year”): Taking advantage of expensive utility bills, fraudulent callers offer to lower bills, threaten shutting off the utility provided or offer fake federal program assistance.
- Flood Insurance Scam (aka “Most Fast-Acting Scam of the Year”): Robocallers targeted individuals in hurricane-impacted areas to collect fake “overdue” flood insurance premiums.
- Free Cruise Scam (aka “The Only Scam to Decline in 2017″): This is the one scam with some good news. While many people now know to be aware of free cruise scam calls, which continue to target Americans, a class action lawsuit was finally brought against a marketing group working with cruise lines who violated the Telephone Consumer Protections Act (TCPA) when they made automated calls to consumers offering free cruises. This helps to increase general awareness and promote TCPA compliance.
- Equifax Credit Report Breach (aka “Most Opportunistic Scam of the Year”): Though not initially carried out over the phone, the massive Equifax data breach that targeted over 145 million Americans resulted in fraudulent calls asking consumers to verify Equifax account information. This scam is highlighted in the report due to the severity and the expectation that the information from this and other 2017 data breaches will be used for targeted phone scams for a long time.
In a year where scam and fraudulent calls continued to increase in greater frequency than ever before, Hiya provides a valuable solution by helping consumers determine whether or not to pick up the phone. This includes identifying legitimate numbers by name as well as identifying and blocking known spam and scam numbers. Hiya provides an industry-first solution available on both its iOS and Android apps to protect consumers from the Neighbor Scam. Hiya automatically alerts users of its iOS app to “potential spoofers” implementing this imitation technique. Hiya users on Android can manually set up a block for the first six digits of their phone number.
Hiya is revolutionizing the way people make and receive phone calls. With a mission to provide a better phone experience, Hiya Caller and Business Profiles provide users with important context, giving them the right information at the right time. Through analysis of more than 3.5 billion calls per month, Hiya protects tens of millions of users from unwanted robo and spam calls globally. Hiya is available as a consumer app on Google Android and iPhone and is integrated into the phone experience for AT&T Call Protect, T-Mobile Name ID, ZTE Axon 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note8, and all A-Series and J-Series users worldwide. For more information, please visit www.hiya.com.
About Hiya’s Robocall Radar Report
Hiya analyzes more than 3.5 billion incoming mobile calls per month globally and then leverages its proprietary rule-based algorithm to identify these calls for consumers. Hiya’s Robocall Radar is calculated by extrapolating the total number of unwanted robocalls detected among Hiya’s user base as compared to the entire U.S. mobile subscriber base. Growth in total call volume and the numbers involved with these calls will vary month to month.