Scammers continue to try to ensnare Americans via phone calls, according to a recent report.
Anti-spam call website Robokiller.com’s 2021 Phone Scam Insights, which was released in February 2022, shows how bad scam calls have gotten over the past year as well as which ruses crooks are using to separate people from their money.
Here are some key findings from the report:
- Scammers used phone calls to steal $30 billion from Americans last year.
- Scammers are increasingly using text messages rather than calls to separate people from their money. Last year, 87 billion spam texts were sent compared to 72 billion spam calls made.
What Is the #1 Scam Call in America?
No scam call has gained traction like the vehicle warranty scam, which Robocall says accounted for nearly 13 billion spam calls in 2021, more than the other top five spam calls combined.
Clark says no matter how convincing the person on the phone is, turn down that car warranty offer.
“You can have absolute frauds where people tell you that they’ll cover everything on your car, and people fall for it. But there is no warranty at all. They just steal your money,” he says.
“Even if they are some kind of marketing company, the truth is getting paid on a claim from one of these marketing firms is nearly impossible,” he adds.
What Are the Top Phone Scams?
Want to know which phone scams criminals are using the most? Here’s a look at top phone scams by topic, estimated through the end of this year:
How To Stop Scam Calls
Because scam calls and other robocalls are such a problem, you may be wondering what you can do about them. Here are some tips.
Register Your Phone on the Do Not Call List
The free National Do Not Call Registry is mainly to stop telemarketers from inundating you with calls, but if you want to cut down on spam calls in general, it won’t hurt to register.
You can add your landline or cell phone number to the list by going online to DoNotCall.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register.
Don’t Know Who’s Calling You? Don’t Answer
Lori Silverman, director of Clark’s Consumer Action Center, says her advice on potential scam calls — and any phone call — will never change:
“Never answer the phone if you do not know who it is,” she says. “If the call is important, they will leave a message. If you do answer a call, NEVER give personal information or pay over the phone.”
Use Your Wireless Provider’s Spam Call Blocker
Many of the major wireless carriers have implemented the industry standard protocol known as STIR/SHAKEN , which stands for Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN).
The protocol lets customers know whether a call is really coming from the number listed on caller ID.
Some mobile phone companies offer paid services to block spam callers, but here are the free options for the major carriers.
- T-Mobile: The carrier offers the Scam Shield app (iOS and Android).
- AT&T: The mobile phone provider lets you turn on its call blocker by pressing *60. Press *61 to add your most recent call to the list. The AT&T Mobile Security app (iOS and Android) gives you more features.
- Verizon: The company offers its mobile customers Call Filter, a free app (iOS and Android) that screens and autoblocks incoming spam calls.
You can bet that criminals are going to continue to find ways around anti-robocall software and initiatives from the phone companies and the U.S. government.
At the end of the day, if you don’t know who’s calling you, you shouldn’t answer the call. As Lori says above, if it’s important, they’ll leave a message.