Tag: Featured

Despite the efforts of Americans to nip the tax scam problem in the bud, it’s that time of year again where the best solution against becoming a victim of a tax scam is to proactively protect yourself.

Based on the data we analyze, the IRS and tax phone scams have been on the rise. It has gone up 1218% year over year from January and February 2017 to 2018.

From calls threatening to take legal action, sending arrest warrants, filing lawsuits, and requesting financial and personal information, Hiya still sees the oldest tricks in the book trending in 2018.

To help Americans avoid these calls, we’ve identified the top area codes where tax scams appear to originate:

  • 202 – Washington, D.C.
  • 206 – Seattle
  • 315 – Upstate new York
  • 470 – Atlanta
  • 631 – Central and East Long Island, NY
  • 314 – St. Louis, Missouri
  • 415 – San Francisco
  • 786 – Miami
  • 646 – New York City

Despite being familiar with the different types of scams, it’s always good to refresh oneself on what to look out for now that tax season is in full swing.

Check out what the IRS deemed to be the “Dirty Dozen” Tax scams below, because they may be making another comeback this year:

Dirty Dozen


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The shutdown of the United States federal government last week, may have lasted two days, but it only opened up the floodgates for scammers to try and scam consumers into believing they’ve been awarded a nice chunk of change from a United States government grant.

Informing consumers that they’ve been awarded the grant for a number of reasons such as good credit backgrounds, paying bills on time, and never filing for bankruptcy, has resulted in endless but unrealistic possibilities.

Once a scammer has reeled in a victim, they request they give them their personal or financial information (i.e. birth date, social security number, credit card number, bank account) either to confirm the victim’s identity or to let them know they’ll “deposit” the money into their account as soon as they received the information.

According to the BBB, during huge federal events, such as the government shutdown, they’ll see a spike in scams related to the event.

“A government grant is real hard to come by and the only thing you will get a government grant for is improving the community. No one is going to give you a grant for just being you,” says Jason Blankenship, director of Business Services for the BBB.

Here are a few tips in case you receive a call enticing you to redeem a so-called government grant:

Seeing is not always believing
Scammers are disguising their identity by “spoofing” their numbers and how they appear on your caller ID. This has been a trick that has helped them to convince their victims to provide personal information so it can be sold illegally or used for fraudulent activity.

•Keep your personal information private
Personal information is called personal because you should keep it to yourself. Never provide personal or financial information to unknown callers. Make sure that if you do, you are familiar with the company and understand why it is necessary that you share it with them.

•Federal government is busy 
Despite us believing our needs should be first on the list, federal government agencies have a lot on their plate. The federal government is not taking the time to search for eligible grantees; it is not a priority. Agencies will only contact you if you have applied for a grant.

If you’ve been a victim or have received a call from a government grant scammer, please report it to the FCC.

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Calling all T-Mobile customers, if you’ve received email notifications from your bank telling you that your transactions have been completed, you’ve been victim to the most recent bank account scam.

T-Mobile cell phone number have been ported to an account with Metro PCS or elsewhere, and then used to allow scammers to gain access to the customers online bank account. The scheme is so technical that mobile numbers with two-step verification accounts are being hacked by scammers who are going extra lengths by sending text messages with security codes to change customer passwords.

Aside from bank accounts being drained, mobile numbers that have been hacked are told by T-Mobile that they have been given permission to port their number over to Metro PCS, leading them to close out the phone number and send it over Metro PCS and then becoming Metro PCS’ number.

T-Mobile and Metro PCS are not aware of how scammers were able to transfer the customer numbers to different carriers. But somehow they managed to hack the system so the SIM cards are rerouted to a different device. Customer then lose their numbers and the scammers then get access to the phone numbers and start getting the customer’s text messages.

To help T-Mobile customers from becoming the next victim, T-Mobile has provided a link that helps customers take extra measures in protecting themselves.

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We spoke to CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor about how our data shows that robocalls made to consumers reached an all time high in 2017, growing 76% to 18 billion. Gone are the days where the “Do Not Call Registry” was guaranteed to protect you from annoying telemarketers, but lucky for Hiya users, this has only pushed us to do our due diligence to make sure our users are protected!

Hiya’s senior product manager, Jonathan Nelson lends his expertise on robocalls and the Do Not Call Registry in the CBS segment below. Click the video to learn more:

CBS Evening News

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Surprise, surprise, the unwanted calls just keep coming! As overall unwanted calls to U.S. consumers increased by a whopping 76 percent, about 18 billion, making it 10 billion more than last year, Hiya made sure not to backdown and instead, kicked it into high gear to provide a valuable solution to our users this past year.

In our latest 2017 End of the Year Robocall Radar Report, we’ve pinpointed the Top Five Trending Phone Scams of 2017, with the Neighbor Scam at the top of the list, a scam that’s been targeting Americans since early 2016.

What we’ve dubbed as the “Scam Tactic of the Year,” the Neighbor Scam rightfully deserves this title as it has grown by 750% this year. It uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and software 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 thinking a nearby friend or business is calling. The calls look a little something like this:

Based on the 2 billion calls we’ve flagged since the beginning of the year, we’ve estimated that one in three reports from Hiya users reference the Neighbor Scam.

To learn more about Hiya’s Top Five Trending Phone Scams of 2017 and how we’ve successfully protected our users from unwanted calls in the past year, click on the image below to read more:

2017 End of the Year Robocall Radar



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All it takes is the word FREE, and scammers know they’ve got their victims right where they want them. But as much as they’ve used this tactic to rope people into thinking they’ve won a FREE cruise or vacation, this scam, has reached the end of the line.

This past August, a class action lawsuit (Charvat v. Carnival et al) in Chicago claimed that the Resort Marketing Group violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when they made automated calls to consumers to offer free cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise lines.

The settlement was worth $7 million to $12.5 million and Resort Marketing Group bought contact information of those who were victimized from a data broker. The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by Philip Charvat, a recipient of one of the phone calls, reported Today. People who received the calls between July 2009 and March 2014 can receive up to $900, or $300 for a maximum of three calls.

Lucky for those who were targeted, their losses were redeemed thanks to the settlement, but despite these scammers getting caught this time around, there will be another wave of scammers attempting to dupe another group of victims with something similar. But before they do, check out some of these vacation scams you should keep on your radar, to avoid being the next on a scammer’s list:

1. It all starts with a ring…

A majority of vacation scams start with a phone call promising an unbelievable prize from a raffle or survey you may (or may not) have entered. As you rack your brain wondering what you may have unknowingly entered, you can’t help but feel that what they’re offering is too good to be true. If you’re getting that gut feeling, it probably is.

2. It’ll just be a “quick” presentation

Key word here was “quick” and they’ve convinced you to redeem your prize at their “showroom” after a presentation. Before you know it, you’re stuck in a 20-minute sales presentation, followed by a couple hours of sales pitches convincing you to invest in some sort of traveler’s membership.

3. Don’t miss out on this “one time offer!”

Try as you might to let them down easy, these sales sharks won’t take NO for an answer. But don’t give in when they tell you a timeshare, club membership, or vacation offer is a one time deal that you’ll never come by again. As persistent as they are to make a sale, they will still be as persistent with the same offer later down the road if they didn’t get you to bite the first time around.

4. Show them the money!

You’ve sat through the presentation, the sales, pitches, and now you can finally redeem your “free vacation”. Or so you thought. There’s one last thing you need to do before you earn the free plane tickets and hotel, hand over that moolah! To be eligible for your free trip, you will have to pay for travel membership, a reservation deposit, or tax and fees. Then, they’ll contact you (of course on their timeline) once they’ve received payment. What happened to “free”?!

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At today’s FCC November Open Commission Meeting, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and fellow FCC commissioners voted in favor of “advanced methods to target and eliminate unlawful robocalls.”

Considering rules proposed by the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, the commission approved the following:

• To authorize phone companies to block robocalls that appear to be from telephone numbers that do not or cannot make outgoing calls.
• Phone companies can block calls purporting to be from a phone number placed on a “do not originate” list by the number’s subscriber.
• They will also be allowed to block calls purporting to be from invalid numbers, like those with area codes that don’t exist, from numbers that have not been assigned to a provider, and from numbers allocated to a provider but not currently in use.
• Prohibiting providers from blocking 911 emergency calls.

The FCC also brought up minimizing the “blocking of lawful calls”, and recommended that companies “establish a simple way to identify and fix blocking errors.”

As the robocalls remains the number one category of consumer complaints for the FCC, the approval of the rules and Chairman Pai “made it clear that the FCC’s top consumer protection priority is to aggressively pursue this “scourge.”

To learn more, read details on the adopted rules here.

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Last week, Hiya attended the NOAH Conference in London, which is  one of the pre-eminent conferences in Europe. The conference witnessed an attendance from over 2000 people including entrepreneurs, investors  and tech enthusiasts from European internet and digital industries.

There was an impressive lineup of speakers and workshop sessions that  proved to be a great platform for exchanging experiences and learnings, and developing business relationships. Included in the lineup was Hiya CEO Alex Algard,  who was invited to lead  the ‘Go Global or Bust’ workshop alongside Ankur Shah, CFO of Careem and Hugh Njemanze, CEO and Founder of Anamoli. The panel was moderated by Peter Weed, a partner at Lumia Capital.

The workshop was attended by a diverse group of ambitious and budding investors. The lively panel discussed various aspects of international business expansion, each drawing upon their personal experiences and learnings. Discussions revolved around three key themes:

What is the right time or phase to expand globally?
This question led to an interesting discussion as all panel members were leading different businesses, in different geographies and believed in operating with different business philosophies.

Hugh, operating in an enterprise space, emphasized on mastering one’s product, making it more stable and building a recognized brand outside of the domestic market before venturing into new markets.

Alex, on the other hand shared how Hiya’s partnership with Samsung helped Hiya reach out to customers in 35 countries over a short period of time. Despite it being a challenge, Alex emphasized how this was a great opportunity to gain early traction and put Hiya on a continuous learning curve to produce products that can solve user problems.

Lastly, Ankur, brought in an interesting perspective for O2O (offline to online) businesses. He described how it is not only important to build the right product, but also to build and manage the infrastructure around the business- people, processes, systems- that operate over international boundaries.

What is the best model to serve international markets?
While there is no ‘best’ model that can serve every business, this is one of the most important questions that every business needs to answer at the beginning of their journey to expand beyond their home market.

Alex started the discussion by sharing how the acquisition of Whatsapp in 2014 compelled him to push for an ‘international focus’ for Hiya. He continued with the idea of ‘internal focus’ and emphasized that it goes beyond just language translation to actually understand different cultures, usage patterns, importance and impact of specific feature and pain points. Living true to his mantra, Alex moved to London in 2016 along with his family to grow Hiya’s presence in Europe. Other panel members strongly resonated with Alex’s philosophy of a founder-led expansion model and transmitting company culture through osmosis.

What is the most important learning/experience when taking a business global?
Moving outside a home market is an important milestone for not only the the founder(s) but for the entire company and workforce. The journey entails new challenges and learnings. Everyone on the panel believed that the key to successful expansion is to build the right team with the right set of people. Alex, further said that it’s imperative to connect the regional offices with the right mindset  that align with the headquarters, and at the same time having managers who truly care about international offices.

As a whole, the workshop and the conference proved to be a great platform to hear and learn from the inspiring stories of great entrepreneurs and thought leaders. For Hiya, we got a great opportunity to put forward our philosophy on being an ‘international first consumer focused’ company and positioned ourselves on the map of emerging European digital startups.   

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Hiya is pleased to announce that we’ve raised $18M in Series A funding, giving us the ability to expand and provide a better phone experience globally! The round was led by Balderton Capital, Europe’s leading early stage venture investor, with participation from Nautilus Venture Partners and Lumia. We are also excited to welcome Balderton partner, Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen, an early executive at Uber and Dropbox, who will be joining Hiya’s board.

As one of the fastest growing mobile startups in the world, Hiya is revolutionizing the way people make and receive phone calls. The phone app has remain unchanged since the smartphone launched over a decade ago. Hiya is fixing this through innovations designed to finally make the phone experience a great one. We make this happen by partnering globally with leading carriers and smartphone OEMs, including Samsung and AT&T. Despite being a startup, we are already making a big impact for our almost 20 million monthly active users in 196 countries (that’s all of them!).

Our new funding will be used for domestic and international expansion, with a significant portion invested in supporting and expanding Hiya’s AI and machine learning product roadmap, as well as growing our data and engineering teams. We have big plans ahead of us, and in order to grow, we need to also grow our team. We are planning on doubling our headcount – from 50 people currently to more than 100 in the coming year. We have a solid business model, we are already generating significant revenues, and now we can say that our backers include some of the world’s leading investors! Interested? Learn more here.

Read more about the announcement in Forbes and TechCrunch.

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Despite all the efforts the FCC and FTC have made to try and stop the flood of robocalls coming through to consumers, Nasdaq has just reported that robocall complaints have hit an all time high in 2017.

“Last year the FTC received 3.4MN robocall complaints, in just 8 months of 2017 that number has already been surpassed with 3.5MN complaints,” they said.

From IRS scams to massive caller ID spoofing operations, despite us finding solutions to one phone scheme, scammers already have another scam coming our way. But despite their persistence, it’s all about being proactive and aware of what type of calls to avoid, and how to protect yourself.

To learn more about the increase in robocalls in 2017 and the FTC’s efforts to fighting robocall click on the image below:


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