Tag: Featured

If you haven’t heard about it already, you’ll probably hear about the Neighbor Scam now that they’re spoofing not just the first six, but even just your area code.

The Neighbor Scam is a tactic phone fraudsters use 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 picking up the phone thinking it’s a neighbor or nearby business calling.

Since the beginning of the year, the Neighbor Scam has made up 56.7 percent of all phone scams that Hiya users have been flooded with in 2018. The number of spoofed calls keeps growing now that scammers have moved on to also spoofing the first five, four, or three digits in the hopes of getting consumers to pick up what appears to be a neighbor’s call.

The data we collected through May also identified the most common area codes being spoofed in the Neighbor Scam:

  1. 602 – Phoenix
  2. 214 – Dallas
  3. 832 – Houston
  4. 210 – San Antonio
  5. 404 – Atlanta
  6. 678 – Atlanta
  7. 704 – Charlotte
  8. 702 – Las Vegas
  9. 623 – Phoenix
  10. 407 – Orlando

Despite it being called the Neighbor Scam, it does not have it’s own particular way of scamming but is more so a technique used to make scam calls we’re all too familiar with (i.e. IRS Scam, Robocalls, Political Scams, Telemarketers).

 

Here are ways you can prevent yourself from becoming the next victim of the Neighbor Scam:

•Despite a number looking local, if you do not recognize it, don’t pick it up and send it straight to voicemail. Anyone who is trying to get a hold of you will leave a voicemail or text.

•If a caller demands immediate payment for services or debt collection that you are not aware of, do not share any personal or financial information and hang-up immediately.

•If an offer sounds too go to be true (i.e. free vacation, interest rate adjustments, refinancing debts), go with your gut feeling because it probably is.

•If you have been a victim or have been targeted by the Neighbor Scam, report the number to the FCC immediately.

 

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In the FCC’s mission to stop the scourge of robocalls affecting consumers across the nation, they’ve successfully issued a $120 million fine on one of the biggest robocall spoofing operations.

Despite the efforts to defend himself and the over 100 million robocalls he made over a time span of three-months, Adrian Abramovich, ran a vacation scam that tricked consumers into answering calls and listening to his sales pitch. The fine was based on 80,000 spoofed calls that the FCC was able to verify.

The FCC originally filed a complaint against Abramovich in June 2017, alleging that he had broke the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009, which does not allow callers from spoofing information to disguise their identity with intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

 

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With over 300 million customer accounts for the picking, it’s not a surprise that scammers have been targeting Amazon sellers and customers.

Amazon Sellers Beware

Scammers are actively calling Amazon sellers to access their personal accounts. Sellers are asked to log into a fake site with their username and password. This then gives scammers access to their information and account. Scammers will have the ability to damage the seller’s name and reputation by listing fake products, changing their existing offers, and transferring payments to their own accounts.

Amazon Customers Aren’t Safe Either

A popular scam targeting customers, are fraudulent emails from Amazon Customer Service. Amazon customers will receive an email notifying them of questionable Amazon login activity. The email requests that they call an 800 number to reset their account. When the victim calls the number, the scammer directs them to a fraudulent website. The customer is then asked to enter their email address, a code provided in the email, and their Amazon login credentials. Unfortunately, this provides scammers access to the victim’s account, giving them the ability to make fraudulent charges and access to personal information.

Customers should also watch out for Google and Bing search results pulling up fake Amazon customer support phone numbers. When the victim calls the “so-called legitimate toll-free number”, a scammer claims to be an Amazon Customer Service agent. Similar to the fraudulent email scam, they will direct the customer to a malicious website and request they enter their email address, provided code, and Amazon login credentials.  Once again, the scammer now has access to the victim’s account and personal information.

Avoid Becoming A Scammers Next Victim

Here are a few tricks and tips to help you from becoming a victim of any of these Amazon scams:
•Confirm that you are calling a legitimate Amazon number
•If you receive an unexpected call from Amazon requesting personal information, do not give out your Amazon password, credit card number, or financial information.
•If you receive an unsolicited email, do not reply with personal information.
• Never use Amazon.com Gift Cards for payment outside of Amazon.
•Do not provide any gift card details (like the claim code) to anyone you do not know or trust.
•Avoid payment requests for Amazon.com Gift Card claim codes.
•Avoid payment requests to guarantee transactions.
• Avoid offers that seem too good to be true.

 

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Political robocalls fall into two categories legal and illegal. Unfortunately, both types are still on the rise. From candidate mudslinging to requests for donations to survey prize offers, it’s becoming more difficult to differentiate what is and is not legitimate before it’s too late. Scammers will use any tactic to obtain personal information to steal your identity and money.

Quarter over quarter (Q1 2017 to Q2 2018), we’ve seen a 3250% increase in political spam calls. Here is a list of those most common political spams hitting consumers and here’s how you can avoid becoming their next victim:

  1. When you receive a call requesting campaign donations, do not offer-up personal information until you have confirmed the caller is with a legitimate organization.
  2. Callers that offer incentives to take campaign surveys shoudl be seen as a red flag, especially when they request credit card information.
  3. To make sure the political call is legitimate, request they send you information by mail.

 

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Despite how much we’d like to see the number of robocalls drop, the data and trends from our quarterly report says different and we’re still seeing a rise in unwanted calls.

As we analyze 5.3 billion calls globally to help consumers identify incoming and outgoing calls, Hiya’s quarter robocall radar report has discovered consumers have received over 4.9 billion robocalls on their mobile phones in the first quarter of 2018, while users reports have increased by 10% from Q1 2017 to Q1 2018.

To get a deeper look at Hiya’s Robocall Radar findings for Q1 2018, check out the full report by clicking the image below:

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We are making our way to D.C. on Monday to showcase our many solutions that help consumers combat unwanted robocalls. Hosted by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, the Stop Illegal Robocalls Expo will take place on April 23, 2018 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Pepco Edison Place Gallery in Washington D.C.

In addition to Hiya, the expo will feature other technologies, devices and applications that help consumers minimize or eliminate the number of illegal robocalls they receive. The event is free to the public so if you’re in the area, please come by with any questions and comments and we’ll be more than happy to chat with you!

 

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WHO:
Charlotte residents and folks with a 980 area code, have you been receiving a lot of scam calls recently? If you have, you’re not alone. Phone scams continue to plague the nation, and Hiya, the global leader in phone spam protection, recently found a high level of phone scam activity to phones with the 980 area code.

Based on Hiya’s analysis of more than 5.3 billion spam calls each month, scam calls to the 980 area code have increased by 69% in the past month.

WHERE:
In addition to mobile users whose area code is 980, Hiya identified the top cities in the area that are plagued by these scams:

  1. Charlotte
  2. Concord
  3. Huntersville
  4. Kannapolis
  5. Matthews
  6. Monroe
  7. Salisbury
  8. South Gastonia
  9. Statesville

WHAT:
Phone fraudsters use various angles when calling their victims. According to Hiya’s data, the most common types of scams that fraudsters are using to reach Charlotte-area residents are:

  • Fundraising Scam – Scammers focus on specific causes to play on your generosity. Urgent requests for recent disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone. Others will claim to call on behalf of local police or firefighters.
  • Mortgage Scam – These scams are designed to steal your money or personal information. The scammers ask for an upfront fee, and after the customer pays the fees, the companies usually do not get mortgage loan modifications. People lose money – and in some extreme cases, their homes too.
  • Car Insurance Renewal Scam – Scammers call and make offers about extending the factory insurance for your vehicle. During the call, they ask for personal information. The scammer may have specific information about your particular car and warranty, which makes it easier to think this is a legitimate caller.
  • Financial Debt Scam – These scammers claim to be debt collectors. They have a lot of personal information about the victims. The scammers can be aggressive and pretend to be with a law firm, government agency or police department.
  • IRS/Credit Card Scam – Scammers will call and say they are from the IRS and will ask the victims yes/no questions such as: “Can you hear me?”, “Are you the person responsible for paying the telephone bill?”, or “Are you the homeowner?” If the victim answers “yes,” it is recorded and may be used by the scammer to authorize bogus charges on a credit card.

STAYING SAFE:  
For tips to avoid these calls and what to do if you answer them, check out the Hiya blog. 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 phone scams. Hiya users on Android can manually set up a block for the first six digits of their phone number.

Hiya is available for free on iTunes and Google Play. To learn more about Hiya visit www.Hiya.com.

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This morning in Washington, the robocall issue continued to heat up in advance to the FCC-FTC’s Stop Illegal Robocalls Expo that Hiya will be be attending this coming Monday.

U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, led a hearing entitled, “Abusive Robocalls and How We Can Stop Them,” where government officials from the FTC, FCC, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, responsible for stopping robocalls and an individual, Adrian Abramovich who had made over 100 million robocalls in a span of three months, were questioned about spoofing, the measures taken by the government and industry to protect consumers from robocalls, and insight on the technology behind robocalls.

Prior to the hearing, Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.), author of The TCPA of 1991, was joined by 14 other Democratic senators in writing a letter to FCC Chairman Pai urging the FCC to take further action in stopping robocalls after a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last month struck down portions of the FCC’s TCPA. Throughout this mornings hearing Markey, repeatedly emphasized the FCC’s need to focus on two key actions:

  1. Providing a comprehensive definition of autodialer to ensure all callers must receive permission before robocalling or texting a consumer.
  2. Preserving a consumers right to revoke consent to deny receiving unsolicited calls or texts.

To watch the hearing in full, click on the video below:

 

 

 

 

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We are proud to announce that we’ve been awarded with AT&T’s 2018 Supplier Award for our outstanding performance and contribution in developing the app “AT&T Call Protect“. With Call Protect, Hiya has helped AT&T address the number one complaint to both the FTC and the FCC (unwanted Robocalls), which also addresses one of AT&T’s 2017 priorities, “Simplify Customer Experience.” Out of AT&T’s 5,000 vendor suppliers, only seven were honored for their hard work over the past year.

According to AT&T: “Hiya is one of seven AT&T 2018 Supplier Award recipients which aligned themselves with AT&T’s priorities and exceeded our expectations in helping us meet our goals,” said Susan Johnson, Executive Vice President Global Connections Management and Supply Chain, AT&T Services, Inc. “Together, we delivered smart solutions, exceeded customer expectations, and executed with innovation and leading edge technology. I am pleased to recognize Hiya who went above and beyond collaborating with us in 2017.”

It is a huge honor to be recognized by AT&T for our efforts in providing the U.S. market’s first answer to call protection and spam detection at the carrier network level. Through our joint efforts in developing Call Protect, AT&T customers, across both iPhone and Android, are now protected from unwanted and fraudulent calls by the market’s most effective solution.

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Last Friday, the FCC and FTC hosted a joint policy forum on “Fighting the Scourge of Illegal Robocalls. The event highlighted the actions carriers and other agencies have taken to protect consumers from unwanted calls.

Hiya Founder & CEO Alex Algard spoke on the “Solutions and Tools for Consumers” panel at the event. Here, he discussed:

  • How hybrid network/app solutions like AT&T Call Protect provide the purest form of protection against consumers.
  • The risks of certain “blunt force” solutions that inaccurately flag legitimate calls as scam or spam (Hiya’s reported false-positive rate is only 0.01%).
  • How Hiya has the technology in place to attack the prolific neighbor spoofing issue for consumers, which grew 750% in 2017.

See below for full details of Algard’s discussion:

Krista Witanowski, Assistant Vice President, CTIA (Panelist): 

I am going to focus on the tools that our wireless carriers have in place now, that are not dependent on a customer necessarily downloading an app, and then I will get into the app ecosystem, which has exploded. AT&T launched a product called AT&T Call Protect in 2016. It is a free network service that allows customers to automatically block suspected fraudulent calls. It flags suspected spam calls so the customer can choose whether to answer it or not. Using an interface provided by the AT&T Call Protect app, customers can manually block an unlimited number of telephone numbers for 30 day intervals. You can download the app across the ecosystem or on the AT&T website. AT&T on the wireline side also made Call Protect available to its IP home phone users, and Alex will talk about this. They have partnered with Hiya and to date, they have blocked 3.5 billion unwanted robocalls.

Alex Algard, Founder & CEO, Hiya (Panelist): 

Our company is called Hiya, we have an app that you can download. There are a lot of choices for consumers, over 500 apps, which is pretty astounding. I think the app stores are pretty effective in guiding consumers to the more effective apps. I am more concerned that in the U.S. market, the iPhone is a bit crippled relative to what Google has done to the Android side. For all of us in the room, if you were to download an Android app that is well rated, you can probably avoid most nuisance calls right away. On the iPhone, you go to settings, and then a phone menu, and then you get down to Call Blocking Identification. Most consumers do not understand that. I think about half of the U.S. market, even though there are good apps available for iPhone, most consumers are unable to activate the services. That is a problem. Otherwise, I think on the operator side, we are very excited to be working with partners. What I am concerned about is the industry’s ability to find the right solution, and it certainly does not have to be ours. I think this is such an important issue, we have got to solve this issue. One is how soon, the spoofing issue is huge. There is a lot that companies can do to combat bad callers and spoofing as well. But how fast can we actually move along on this? I think Jim (McEachern, Senior Technology Consultant, Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions) and Alex (Quilici, Chief Executive Officer, YouMail) are doing great work, and we are eager to see something great coming out. How can a governing authority be placed into action? That is the foundation that will make that market stronger, if the spoofing issue can be dealt with, the foundation of hundreds of companies are building this.

Julius Knapp, Chief Engineer, Office of Engineering and Technology, FCC (Moderator)

There is pluses and minuses in having lots of things to choose from. On the one hand, it is great. You can sort through it. Anybody can comment on what the consumer’s reactions or experiences have been with this? Have they been effective?

Algard: 

We talked about the apps that have high ratings. Some of the solutions by the carriers have been very effective. At least 6 billion phone calls from bad actors are being blocked recently. It is starting to work. There is a lot more work that needs to be done still. I am always concerned about, maybe some actors, some companies being overly aggressive in too quickly fighting the bad robocalls. I think really what is needed is a scalpel in terms of threading out bad callers from the good ones.

Knapp: 

How do you distinguish a bad actor? The things you want to block from the things that should get through? Can you say a little bit, for consumers, about how does this work, so that I make sure, maybe some choose to take the bazooka, but others, like I talked about, maybe this is a call I really wanted to have come through, how do you sort those?

Algard:

Our team in Seattle has a whole set of advanced algorithms to use, machine learning techniques in a real-time basis to detect for a sign of reputation. It is really a daunting technical challenge. One of the things I am excited about is we do not actually have a so-called blacklist. We are looking at every call as an event on its own, and depending on what else we have seen on the network, we may choose to assign the call a bad or good notation. The worst reputation would result in a call being blocked. Very few calls are not being blocked and have that reputation, those are the ones that get a lot of attention and rightly so, because those can be dangerous. That could be a fake IRS agent demanding money. We are seeing a great increase compared to last year. Then there are calls we consider spam or nuisance. Then it is subjective. When an unknown call is coming through, there is a 50/50 chance the person will want to receive a call from that person. I think there has been instances about school alerts. Of course, it is important to receive those. Given that our company is premised on fighting these bad calls, I can say comfortably that there is other examples too. I changed my credit card recently, and had our service locked out, either my service would have been terminated or my credit rating would have gone down. It is important that some of these calls get through. There are 2 million people who are doing important work and need to get through to consumers. We take the false-positive thing very seriously. Our reported false-positive rate is 0.1% and we are proud of that.

Knapp:

 The number that looks like it comes from New York and it is spoofing, are the things we have been talking about effective against spoofing? How do that come into play?

Algard:

There is a bit of a myth out there that nothing can be done for spoofing unless Shaken is fully implemented. We are seeing almost 30% of nuisance calls today are the so-called Neighbor Spoofing Scam. These are typically spam calls. If you are not familiar with it, it is basically these bad actors calling you on whatever number you have. The originating number has the same six digits, sometimes it has all the same numbers. Usually, it is the first six digits. We have some techniques to thread that out. The clumsy technique would be to block any call that comes in from those first six digits, but then you might block out people who randomly have similar phone numbers with you. I cannot tell you what technique we are using, because if any of these guys are watching, that technique would no longer be effective. That is an example of spoofing where actually, if you are smart about how you go about it, you can block those calls.

I do not have an opinion on enforcement, but in terms of what the FCC and FTC have been doing, as a newcomer to D.C., we are pretty much held up in our tech bubble on the west coast most of the time. It has been really nice to see what an effective spark took place a couple years ago here. All sorts of good conversation around spoofing and action has taken place now. I am a little bit concerned about there being too much discourse about coverage, or the ability to detect these bad callers, and maybe not as much on the false positives. We are taking a very long-term view and I want there to be as much innovation and solutions available to customers. I think there was an example just recently with a self-driving car hitting someone. Now that has shut down innovation temporarily for self driving cars. I can think of all sorts of awful scenarios that would take place if too many calls are blocked. I am not going to give specific examples, but some of them are actually life and death. I do not think that it is necessarily the government’s role to enforce how this happens, but just elevating the cost of false positives more into the discussion would be healthy to make sure that innovation will continue in the long run as rapidly as possible.

Watch the full forum by clicking the video below:

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