Scammers want nothing more than to pry you from your money and one way they’re increasingly doing it is via phone.
Anti-spam call website RoboKiller.com’s 2023 Mid-Year Insights & Analysis report gives a status report on how prolific phone scammers have gotten and how much they’re costing consumers.
In this article, I’ll cover some of the main aspects of the report — as well as some things you can do to curb scam calls.
Robocalls Are Down, But Crooks Are Stealing More Money
Here are some key findings from the report, which covers from January to June 2023:
- Warranty vehicle calls have been replaced as the #1 phone scam.
- U.S. residents received 31 billion robocalls so far this year. That’s a 21% decrease compared to the same period last year.
- Americans have lost more than $33 billion due to robocall scams in 2023. That’s a $3 billion year-over-year increase.
What Is the #1 Scam Call in America?
While vehicle warranty calls usually top the list when it comes to robocall categories, that’s no longer the case, according to the report.
“That all changed in late 2022 when the FCC cracked down on car warranty scams. Since then, these calls have virtually vanished. Now, the vast majority of unwanted calls come from telemarketers,” the report says.
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 in 2023:
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
“If I don’t recognize the number as being from someone I know, I do not answer the call.”
Use Your Wireless Provider’s Call Blocker
Many major wireless carriers have implemented the industry standard protocol 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 callers, but here are the free options for the major carriers.
- T-Mobile: The carrier offers the Scam Shield app (iOS and Android), which allows you to report robotexts.
- AT&T: The mobile phone provider offers wireless customers ActiveArmor (there’s also a $3.99/month paid tier), which uses automatic fraud blocking and warnings on suspected spam calls.
- Verizon: The company offers its mobile customers Call Filter, a free app (iOS and Android) that screens and autoblocks incoming calls. Call Filter Plus costs $3.99 a month.
Criminals are going to continue to find ways around everything we are doing to block their calls.
At the end of the day, if you don’t know who’s calling you, you shouldn’t answer the call. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.
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