Tag: Featured

Today, we are excited to announce that we are collaborating with Comcast to help protect Xfinity Mobile customers from unwanted nuisance and scam phone calls. Starting today, Xfinity Mobile customers can download the Hiya app for free to begin receiving alerts about potential spam calls and block them, as well. With Hiya, Xfinity Mobile customers will receive alerts about potential spam calls while having the capability to block all and any unwanted calls. For legitimate calls, the app will also identify common businesses clearly identifying who is calling and includes a “neighbor spoofing” blocker, allowing customers to block specific area codes if they are bombarded by a number of unwanted calls from that area code.

Not only are we pleased to help protect Xfinity Mobile customers from unwanted calls, but we are proud to collaborate with a company that has been aggressively tackling the issue of unwanted calls head on. Comcast has been playing a leadership role in the industry-wide effort to develop and implement SHAKEN/STIR, an important protocol to combat fraudulent calls. In March, Comcast and AT&T (a Hiya partner!) announced what is believed to be the first call between two separate providers’ landline voice networks using the SHAKEN/STIR protocol.

Hiya brings trust, identity and context to the mobile call. With a mission to provide a better phone experience, Hiya provides users with important context, giving them the right information at the right time. Our collaboration with Xfinity Mobile gets us one step closer to restoring trust in this important means of communication.

To learn more about our collaboration with Xfinity Mobile, please visit the Comcast blog here

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Last night, Hiya attended Seattle Business magazine’s 30th annual 100 Best Companies to Work for awards dinner at the Washington State Convention Center.

Amongst 1,000 attendees, companies were honored in four categories – small, midsize, large, and headquartered outside of Washington.

For the second consecutive year, we were proud to be named one of the best small companies (15-49 employees) in Washington.

“A common theme across all these successful companies is transparent, communicative leadership and responsiveness to employee concerns,” said Seattle Business magazine Editor in Chief Rob Smith. “A positive company culture drives innovation and profit, boosts productivity, reduces turnover and creates employee enthusiasm.”

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Around the world, billions upon billions of mobile phone calls are made every single day, and yet the phone app has remained unchanged since smartphones launched over a decade ago. Hiya is determined to revolutionize the way people make and receive mobile phone calls. We partner with mobile phone makers (including Samsung) and mobile carriers (including AT&T) to bring this innovation to all of their global subscribers. As we look to grow our user base (well beyond our nearly 80 million monthly users!) through partnerships, we are happy to announce that we have welcomed three new members – Pinar Ormeci, Won Park and Kevin Britt – to our Business Development Team!

Pinar Ormeci, VP, Sales and Business Development, North America

As Vice President of Sales and Business Development for North America, Pinar is responsible for Hiya’s growth strategy and activities in the region. Pinar has more than 20 years of sales and technology experience in the telecom and IT industries, most recently overseeing Ericsson’s Western and Central European partnership, alliances and digital consulting business from London. Early in her career she worked at Qualcomm and was the key Account Manager for Verizon at Cequint/TNS before joining Ericsson. Pinar has an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Won Park, VP Strategic OEM Accounts

With many years of expertise in the telecom industry, Won will be leading Hiya’s ongoing growth and distribution strategy, with a specific focus on Mobile OEM partnerships. Prior to Hiya, Won was Head of Mobile Partnerships at LinkedIn where he grew the mobile app user base through OEM and carrier partnerships. Before LinkedIn, Won worked at Evernote where he helped distribute the company’s mobile app to tens of millions of smartphones through partnerships with companies like Samsung, LG and NTT. Won also worked in Samsung’s Mobile Division for over 10 years in Korea and the Bay Area, where he led numerous partnerships with US companies like Swype, Dropbox and Flipboard. Won holds a B.A. in Media Studies from University of London and a Masters in Marketing from the University of Manchester.  

Kevin Britt, Director of Business Development, North America

Kevin brings over 20 years of sales and business development experience across multiple verticals including mobile, payments, data, automotive, and hospitality. Kevin most recently worked at Inrix as Senior Director, Business Development where he was responsible for closing strategic partnerships, and launching next-generation automotive applications and services from top global content brands. Prior to that, he served as Vice President, Sales and Business Development for React Mobile where he was responsible for building SaaS revenue and strategic partnerships in the Hospitality vertical. At Airborne Mobile, he served as VP of Sales and Business Development where he worked directly with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Kevin holds a B.A. in Business from Central Washington University.

Welcome to the team Pinar, Won and Kevin. We can’t wait to see what you do!

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Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) and Hiya recently released the findings from a new study that assessed how well spam detection solution providers Hiya, First Orion and TNS detect unwanted robocalls. The study, which focused specifically on spam identification rate and spam error rate, and assigned an overall score for the combination of these two metrics, found that Hiya is the best overall at accurately detecting unwanted calls. Of course, Hiya is pleased with the outcome, but that is less important. 

Most importantly, this study introduces a first-of-its-kind methodology to set a new industry standard for how to transparently and accurately evaluate how well solution providers detect spam calls. As covered exclusively by FierceWireless in a story titled “Hiya calls for industry standard to compare robocall solution providers”, we believe the time is now to do just that! 

A New Industry Standard to Cut Through the Confusion
Over the past year, a few different studies attempted to declare a spam detection “winner” among the big four carriers (recently, the Washington Post attempted their own study). At best, these studies can serve as cautionary tales as to the complexity of the spam detection space. At worst, they were erroneous and misleading. And given the lack of transparency surrounding who really commissioned them and what methodology was used to conduct them, in the end they did nothing but to neutralize each other. 

In order to provide the most scientific way of testing each company’s ability to accurately detect spam calls, Hiya worked with GWS to implement a unique approach to the testing methodology. Instead of testing static “lists” of known spam numbers, this test examined actual phone traffic over the course of 24 hours and leveraged the resulting set of numbers to test how each company classified each number. This method allowed GWS to look at where providers agree and disagree on the reputations they assign to numbers, and through further analysis, determine how accurate they are at doing so.  

Specifically, the results of this study looked at and revealed the following: 

  • Identification Rate: The Identification Rate is the portion of all confirmed spam phone numbers in the dataset tested that the provider correctly classified as spam.
  • Error Rate: The Error Rate is the portion of all calls that a provider classified as spam, that were not actually spam (i.e. false positives).
  • Detection Score: The Detection Score takes the Identification Rate and the Error Rate and applies a penalty for incorrectly classifying a number as spam.

 Further details surrounding the industry standard set forth by Hiya and GWS can be found here.  

Our hope is that the industry can rally together to create a fair and honest way to evaluate all of the spam detection solutions in the market. Healthy competition among the vendors will benefit the carrier customers, and perhaps more importantly, the consumer end users will enjoy a better calling experience with their carriers.

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Washington state residents be on guard! Despite Seattle being named one of the second-best tech cities in the U.S., this has not discouraged scammers from targeting Washington’s tech savvy citizens.

In the first quarter of 2019, 206 million robocalls made their way to Washington state mobile phones, a 55% increase from last year.

More specifically, scammers have been targeting Washington state with the Wangiri “One-Ring” Scam. This scam originally appeared in the U.S. in 2013 and in years to follow, it hit a lull and expanded internationally to countries like Ireland, Scotland, and Germany.

However, in the first few months of this year, it’s made a recent comeback in the U.S., with Seattle at the top of the list of targeted area codes. Seattle alone saw a 98% increase in the scam since the beginning of the year.

To get a deeper look at Hiya’s Washington State Robocall Radar findings in Q1, check out the full report here.

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Amazon Headquarters may be located in Seattle, but it definitely doesn’t give Washington state immunity from falling victim to the Amazon Customer Service Scam. With over 300 million customers accounts for the picking, Washington state customers alone have seen a 94% increase in the scam since last year.

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.

As for customers, they are receiving 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.

Based on data Hiya analyzed of consumers affected by the scam in Washington state, we have identified the top area codes being targeted by the Amazon Customer Service Scam:

  1. Seattle (206)
  2. Vancouver (360)
  3. Bellevue (425)
  4. Tacoma (253)

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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You’ve already been the target of a “Neighbor Scam” call — you just might not know it. This clever little trick has been on the rise since early 2016. Scammers using this method of fraud will copy (AKA “spoof”) the first 5 or 6 digits of your phone number when they call you, in the hopes that you will answer since it appears you are receiving a local call. Once they have you on the line, they’ll begin the same old tired attempts to trick you out of your hard earned dollars.

Recently, there has been a shift in this strategy. Instead of spoofing the first 6 digits of a phone number, scammers are only spoofing the area code. This change in behavior suggests that anti-spam providers like Hiya are effectively predicting neighbor scam calls. In response to effective anti-spam solutions, the scammers are attempting to continue the scam by switching to a less targeted strategy, in the hopes that by generalizing their approach, they can keep the scam viable. Unfortunately, the spammers are right — predicting if a call is a Neighbor Scam with 3 digits instead of 6 is much harder — but your friends at Hiya are up for the challenge.

Since the beginning of the year, we have mined our data to create aggregations that can be used to identify area code based neighbor scams, and have used these data to implement a model targeted at detecting and identifying these calls. One of the many really cool details is that this model is intelligent enough to recognize if the number in question belongs to a business and will make a determination using that information, so we don’t accidentally flag your Doctor’s office as spam.

You’ll also notice that in March there is a decline in neighbor spoofing. This coincides with the FTC Crackdown on NetDotSolutions, a notorious dialing platform that facilitated billions of robocalls used to generate leads for sales. This particular group was linked to a major takedown in 2017, where Aaron Michael Jones was the ring leader, the judgment on this case was 2.7 million. This decline is great news, it highlights that the FTC is making an impact, but it also appears that the number of neighbor calls is already starting to rebound, so there is still lots of work to do.

While we continue to work tirelessly on comprehensive solutions, here are some tips to protect yourself if you find yourself on the phone with someone suspicious:

  • 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 (e.g. free vacation, interest rate adjustments, refinancing debts) it probably is. Go with your gut and hang up.
  • If you have been targeted by, or are a victim of, the Neighbor Scam, immediately report the number to the FCC and on your Hiya app.
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Hiya along with the FCC, is warning consumers not to fall victim to the latest phone scam, the Wangiri (also known as the one ring) scam, which is making a come back in the U.S. For years, the Wangiri scam, Japanese for “one ring and drop” has been preying on unknowing mobile victims, enticing them to call back international numbers for which they’re ultimately charged premium rates. First making an appearance in the U.S. in 2013, in the years to follow, it hit a lull with Americans as it expanded internationally to countries including Ireland, Scotland, and Germany. Since the beginning of the year, it’s made a recent comeback to the U.S., increasing 98% in the first quarter (as compared to Q4 2019), and more recently seen a massive spike in calls originating from West Africa’s Sierra Leone – a 2,527% increase in one day, from May 2nd to May 3rd.

Originating from the West African Atlantic Coast, seconds before a victim can pick up the call, the culprit hangs up, hoping the recipient of the call returns it out of curiosity. In some instances, scammers will leave a message urging the victim to call a number to either receive a so-called raffle prize, or find out about a sick relative. If the victim calls back, they are connected to an international hotline charging a connection fee, along with substantial per-minute fees. Unfortunately, the victim doesn’t realize they’ve been scammed, until they see the premium services on their monthly phone bill.

“Scammers are increasingly sophisticated in the methods they use to defraud consumers. They’re not only coming up with new scams, but also resurrecting those that worked in the past,” said Alex Algard, Hiya founder and CEO. “By letting the one ring scam die down for a few years while they targeted victims in other countries, these criminals hope that Americans forgot their tactics, which is why it’s so important to stay informed on common scams.”

Based on data Hiya analyzes from more than 13 billion calls globally per month, we have identified the top area codes being targeted by the one ring scam originating from Sierra Leone:

  1. Tulsa, Oklahoma (918)
  2. Southeastern Louisiana (985)
  3. Northeast Texas (903)
  4. Westchester County, New York (914)
  5. Fort Lauderdale, Florida (954)
  6. Memphis, Tennessee (901)
  7. Baton Rouge, Louisiana (225)
  8. Worcester, Massachusetts (508)
  9. Roanoke, Virginia (540)
  10. Dallas, Texas (972)
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A group of Hiyans dressed to the nines as they headed into the Westin in downtown Seattle to attend the City Year Seattle/King County Ripples of Hope Gala.

Ripples of Hope is City Year Seattle/King County’s annual gala that celebrates the community’s commitment to equitable education for all. This year’s event was celebrating the work of AmeriCorps members in schools and feature various speakers, a live auction, and other fun surprises. Proceeds enables City Year to work with thousands of students and provide them with extra care and support.

With an attendance of about 500 people, the night’s festivities fundraised a total of nearly $400,000 in gifts, pledges and sponsorships.

Throughout the night, Hiya was touched by the personal stories they had heard of those who have benefitted from City Year and were ecstatic to be apart of such an amazing event.

Thank you City Year for the work you do and for the support you give to the future generations in Seattle and greater King County area.

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Each year the Telecom Council searches for communications startups who are changing the way people communicate by bringing innovations to the market.

Out of over 100 applicants, Hiya is proud to announce that we’ll be featured in the Telecom Council’s Innovation Showcase Class of 2019.

Hiya was chosen by “global telecom operators who represent over 3 billion subscribers in over 50 countries,” announced the Telecom Council in a press release.

The Telecom Council’s Innovation Showcase is designed to discover market-ready communications startups with deployment-ready technologies. They then will be introduced to industry partners that will help take their businesses to the next stage.

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