Fraud & Identity Fraud & Identity

Fraud & Identity Featured Article

December 01, 2017

'Tis the Season for Scams to Soar

While we all wish we could be as jolly as Clark W. Griswold during the holidays, this is not always the case. This is, simply put, a stressful time of year. From crossing items off of wish lists, getting the decorations up and spending time with that kooky relative – we all have one, it’s ok – the pressures of the holiday can turn into quicksand rather quickly. Now that I’ve got your attention, something else happens this time of year: fraudsters kick deceit into high gear – particularly with phone scams.

A recent study from First Orion released this week illustrated that with nearly 2.5 billion phone calls made every month there is much in the way of low hanging fruit for fraudsters. Per the 1,000 mobile phone users surveyed, fraudsters are leveraging new spoofing methods and getting more aggressive in their efforts. Just like sharks, they smell blood in the water.

In 2016, 73 percent of respondents note receiving a call they believe to be a scam, this jumped to almost 85 percent in 2017. One area with a dramatic increase: neighbor spoofing, which skyrocketed by 400 percent from last year. Over half the time you receive a phone call from a number that shares the first six digits with your number it is an instance of neighbor spoofing. Per First Orion, neighbor spoofing calls make up four percent of ALL mobile traffic. To put this in perspective, that’s equivalent to 100,000,000 calls/per month.

Digging a little deeper into the report, almost 60 percent of those surveyed report receiving a scam call in the last month, with the top three scam calls coming from “cruise and vacation” scams, the “IRS” and imposters scams.

People want an alternative, as last year only 66 percent stated a willingness to change carriers if it resulted in the ability to block fraudsters and telemarketers compared to more than 80 percent of this year’s participants. Of those, nearly 25 percent stated they would definitely switch carriers if this capability was available.

"Our mobile phones are becoming a primary target for scammers as they continue to get more sophisticated," said Scott Ballantyne, Chief Marketing Officer of First Orion. "With many online services requiring mobile phone numbers, we are all becoming more vulnerable to our numbers ending up in the wrong hands.”

The holidays are stressful enough without having to navigate the waters of whether or not you’re being scammed. While the FCC is warning people about disaster relief or other charity ploys, sometimes it can prove difficult to say no. The answer is simple: Trust, but verify.

Are you protected from fraud this holiday season?

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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