The pervasiveness of fraud comes in countless forms. For many consumers, thwarting fraud has become a nuisance that interrupts the regular flow of daily lives. For merchants selling products and services online, fraud creates a ripple effect that leads to lost revenue, steep fines and a loss of brand loyalty.
The latest disruption? Phone scams. Fraudsters are making hotlines bling a few too many times -- aggressively targeting innocent bystanders and blowin’ up their phones with unwanted calls. In 2017, the FTC received over 4.5 million robocall complaints, not including the 2.5 million telemarketing call complaints -- a five-fold increase since 2009. Local Better Business Bureaus have cited phone scams as the top scheme reported by consumers. Here are three of the major phone scams tying up the headlines and phone lines:
(Robo)Call Me on My Cell Phone
Among the top perpetrators of phone fraud? The Neighbor Scam: fraudsters use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software to replicate the first six digits of a user's phone number. The familiarity with the area code and first three digits have offered consumers a false sense of security and led them to pick up these robocalls. According to robocalling blocking service Hiya, the frequency of this scam grew a staggering 750 percent this year, with one in three users referencing the Neighbor Scam. The FTC attributes internet-powered phone systems to making it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world.
Call Me Maybe – But Don’t Pick Up
When it comes to missing a call from an unrecognized international number, there’s no maybe about it. Don’t pick up and don’t call back. Known as Wangiri Fraud, fraudsters target phone numbers purchased from the Dark Web, dialing them from a range of international numbers, including Libya, Chad, Cook Islands, and Tunisia, and quickly hanging up in an attempt to get unsuspecting users to call them back. Once a user calls back, fraudsters rack up the charges on their phone bill by charging them a connection fee. If someone’s really trying to reach you, they’ll leave a voicemail.
I Just Called to Say…You Have Jury Duty
We’ve all heard about fraudsters trying to mask as the IRS, but they’re assuming another role in this new fraud scam: your local sheriff or court system. That’s right, even though jury duty summons are sent in the mail, fraudsters have been on a rampage, aggressively calling and accusing victims of failing to show up for jury duty. They not only threaten to issue a warrant for arrest unless that person pays a fine, but also try to cull targets for their personal information, including Social Security, date of birth, and account information. Similar to the IRS scams, sometimes they request payment in the form of gift cards. Fraudsters have pretended to be the Sheriff’s Office across a number of different counties in the U.S.
As seen with these phone scams, it doesn’t take much to become a fraudster, since they can easily mask themselves to bilk consumers. But, it does take a comprehensive solution to anticipate and prevent fraud, especially for merchants handling mobile transactions. Mobile devices use a different set of criteria, requiring retailers to employ technology that identifies, validates, and authorizes a purchase as quickly as possible.
Learn more about preventing fraud on a range of mobile transactions including wallets, apps, and other mobile payment platforms, and how it differs across channels in our eBook "The Download on Mobile App Fraud".