Tag: Featured

Pushing forward to combat the scourge of robocalls in 2019, the FCC has made an announcement that they will be amending the Truth in Caller ID rules to extend to communications originating outside the U.S, including text messages and voice services.

Prior to the government shutdown on January 3, 2019, the FCC released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, for the January 30, 2019 Open Meeting where they are expected to vote on issuing the notice. The notice would “implement new FCC rules and definitions designed to deter malicious caller identification spoofing. The proposed rules are intended to update current FCC Truth in Caller ID rules to reflect Congress’ recent enactment of Section 503 of the RAY BAUM’S Actthat modified section 227(e) of the Communications Act as well as to “expand and clarify the prohibition on misleading or inaccurate caller identification information,”” reported the National Law Review.

The goal of the proposed rule change if adopted, would target spoofed calls and texts “with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”

According to the FCC the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Would do the following:

• Propose changes to the FCC’s current Truth in Caller ID rules by largely tracking the language of the RAY BAUM’S Act statutory amendments. These proposed changes include: o extending the reach of the Commission’s current Truth in Caller ID rules to include covered communications originating from outside the United States to recipients within the United States; and o expanding the scope of covered communications services to include text messages and additional voice services.

• Seek comment on new or revised definitions of the following terms for purposes of section 227(e) of the Communications Act: “text message,” “text messaging service,” “voice service,” “caller identification information,” and “caller identification service.”

• Seek comment on any other changes to the FCC’s Truth in Caller ID rules necessary to effectuate Congress’ intent in amending section 227(e).

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Whether it be back, leg, shoulder, or anything that is chronically painful, be on guard! Scammers are targeting New York residents claiming they can fix your chronic pain with so-called support from Medicare and Medicaid.

Coming through to victims as spoofed robocalls, local police are warning residents that the calls are not local and the callers convincing individuals to hand over personal information.

“The New York State Attorney General’s office also investigates/advises the public regarding possible telephone scams. If you believe that you’ve received a fraudulent telemarketing solicitation or if you believe you are a victim of telemarketing fraud, you can call the attorney general’s consumer hotline for assistance,” reported the Rome Sentinel.

Here how you can avoid being a victim:
1) Never provide personal or financial information over the phone to an unexpected caller.
2) Hang-up immediately if you do not recognize or were not expecting the call. Confirm the call by calling the organization directly and inquiring about the request.
3) Do not call back an unknown number as it may confirm that your number is in use, resulting in your number being placed on a list that may repeatedly call back through an auto-dialer system.

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Check out this week’s victim:

Wisconsin residents living in the 262 area code

Top 10 Cities:
1) West Bend
2) Brookfield
3) Menomonee Falls
4) Kenosha
5) Caledonia
6) New Berlin
7) Racine
8) Waukesha
9) Muskego
10) Mequon

Growth since January 2018 to Present:

Fraud Calls – 59%


Nuisance Calls – 690%

Top 3 Scams Hitting 262 Residents:

Medical Brace Scam: Scammers target Medicare patients and offer free knee braces from Medicare. They claim to be referred from a victim’s doctor or caregiver and identify themselves as a representative from Medicare or a medical warehouse. They then request the victim to share their Medicare number and personal information to receive the so-called free brace.

Car Warranty Scam: During the call – which often begins automated or pre-recorded the victim may be instructed to press a certain number or stay on the line, then asked to provide personal information, which potentially can be used to defraud the victim. The scammer may have specific information about the victim’s car and warranty that they use to deceive them into thinking they are a legitimate caller.

Amazon Recruiting Scam: Scammers are contacting victims about a work-at-home job opportunity at Amazon. The so-called opportunity would allow the individual to work using her computer for Amazon and would compensate them $500 for only working a couple hours. They’re then directed to a website at amzjobs.org or other renditions of the site. Unfortunately, this is not a legitimate site as Amazon’s official site is Amazon.jobs.

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This week we’re not bringing you one but two area codes that have been targeted by fraud and nuisance calls in the U.S.

Check out this week’s victims:

Taking the title for top area code targeted by fraud calls  are Nevada residents living in the 775 area code.

Top Cities include:

  1. Pahrump
  2. Carson City
  3. Sparks
  4. Reno

Growth since January 2018 to Present:

Fraud Calls – 742%

As for nuisance calls, Massachusetts residents living in the 339 area code saw a sudden spike in the unwanted calls.

Top 10 Cities include:

  1. Medford
  2. Braintree
  3. Waltham
  4. Lynn
  5. Malden
  6. Wellesley
  7. Stoneham
  8. Wakefield
  9. Lexington
  10. Winchester

Growth since January 2018 to Present:

Nuisance Calls – 1707%

Top 3 Scams hitting 775 and 339 Residents:

Credit Card Rate Scam: Some credit card scammers will tell the victim they are from the victim’s credit card company and they ask them to confirm or give up some personal information, e.g. your credit card number, credit card security code, social security number, or mother’s maiden name. After the call ends, the caller uses the information the victim gave to make charges on their account or to create a new account in your name.

Marriott Hotel Offer: Scammers lure in victims by informing them that they’ve won an all-expense paid hotel stay at the premium brand hotel. Unfortunately, when the scammers requests for personal and financial information to “redeem” the stay, in reality they use the information to access the victim’s accounts.

Medical Brace Scam: Scammers target Medicare patients and offer free knee braces from Medicare. They claim to be referred from a victim’s doctor or caregiver and identify themselves as a representative from Medicare or a medical warehouse. They then request the victim to share their Medicare number and personal information to receive the so-called free brace.

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Believe it or not, businesses have it tough out there. The phone call space is so flooded with malicious and unwanted phone calls that people are increasingly reluctant to pick up calls from unfamiliar numbers. For legitimate and useful businesses, this means their calls go unanswered since consumers cannot differentiate them from all the noise. Making matters even worse are some of the call blocking solutions that flag genuine calls as scam due to poor spam detection intelligence, combined with a lack of knowledge into how different industries use phone calls. By severely inflating the scam problem and exaggerating or mis-classifying calls as scam, consumers are left never trusting the phone.

But at Hiya, we want to work differently. Our main mission is to make it worthwhile for everyone to answer the phone again, which of course starts with industry-leading spam detection that works in real time to identify and even block unwanted calls. But we also want to shield legitimate businesses from being wrongly caught up in over-aggressive spam detection or spoof attacks. So we’re pleased to introduce Business Clear: a new enhancement to our spam detection offering that is designed to ensure wanted calls from legitimate businesses are always able to get through.

Business Clear operates on more than 10 million businesses in the United States, with special focus on some key categories that suffer the most from being flagged incorrectly:

  • Banks & Financial Services
  • Higher Education
  • Insurance Providers
  • Credit Card & Loan Services
  • Legal Service Providers

In addition, extra protection is provided to those industries deemed most critical, which will never be caught up in a spam filtering block by Hiya. These include:

  • Hospitals
  • Elementary Schools
  • Police Departments
  • Fire Departments
  • National Emergency Services
  • 911 Departments

With Business Clear, Hiya helps to make sure answering the phone becomes worthwhile again. After all, the goal isn’t to stop every call completely, the goal is to connect people and businesses together in meaningful ways.

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You found the ideal job, working from home, making thousands a dollars a month, and and doing it all for one of the world’s most valuable companies, Amazon. The perfect situation right? WRONG!

If you’ve been on the search for a job, and happen to receive a voicemail inviting you to apply for a job at Amazon guaranteeing the listed perks above, be very wary!

According to the Better Business Bureau, ” Allegedly, the online retailer is hiring dozens of people to list products online, post reviews, and do other website work. The position pays well – targets report anything from $20/hour to $6,000/month – and you can work from home. Scammers use the names Amazon Cash Website(s), StockRetail.com, and WebStoreJobs.com.”

As prospective employees apply for the position, they are then asked to purchase a $200 “enrollment kit” before they start their new position. Unfortunately, after purchasing the kit, their Amazon contact disappears, they never receive the kit, and the so-called Amazon position never existed.

Here are a few tips from the Better Business Burea on how to spot a job scam:

  • Be cautious of any job that asks you to share personal information or hand over money. Scammers will often use the guise of running a credit check, setting up direct deposit, or paying for training.
  • Check the business’s website. Scammers frequently post jobs using the names of real companies such as Amazon to lend legitimacy to their cons. Check on the business’s website for the position and/or call to confirm.
  • Work at home at your own pace. Always be wary of work from home opportunities that are riddled with testimonials. Often the suggestion of real success is misleading. Suggesting that few hours and limited work will make one successful is a red flag.
  • Some positions are more likely to be scams. Always be wary of work-from-home or secret shopper positions, or any job with a generic title such as caregiver, administrative assistant, or customer service rep. Positions that don’t require special training or licensing appeal to a wide range of applicants. Scammers know this and use these otherwise legitimate titles in their fake ads.
  • Different procedures should raise your suspicion. Watch out for on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job but beware of offers made without an interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring. Don’t fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask for money to be wired elsewhere. This is a common trick used by scammers. Be careful if a company promises you great opportunities or big income as long as you pay for coaching, training, certifications or directories.
  • Government agencies post all jobs publicly and freely. The federal government and the U.S. Postal Service never charge for information about jobs or applications for jobs. Be wary of any offer to give you special access or guarantee you a job for a fee – if you are paying for the promise of a job, it’s probably a scam.
  • Get all details and contracts in writing. A legitimate recruiter will provide you with a complete contract for their services with cost, what you get, who pays (you or the employer), and what happens if you do not find a job.
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Texas just can’t get a break when it comes to being victimized by unwanted callers. Things may have simmered down since their 1200% spike in spam and fraud calls in early November, but the Lone Star State is still at the top of this week’s list of top area codes affected by these types of calls.

Check out this week’s victim:

Texas residents living int he 469 area code

Top 10 Cities include:

  1. Carrollton
  2. Rowlett
  3. Frisco
  4. DeSoto
  5. Mesquite
  6. Richardson
  7. Lewisville
  8. Cedar Hill
  9. Coppell
  10. Flower Mound

Growth since January 2018 to Present:

Fraud Calls – 427%

Spam Calls – 708%

Top 3 Scams hitting 469 Residents:

Social Security Fraud: Scammers are contacting consumers and spoofing their number to disguise themselves as the SSA’s customer service number – 1-800-772-1213. They claim that they’re an SSA employee and either need personal information, including the victim’s Social Security number to confirm the individual’s file, inform a victim they’d like to increase their benefit payments and need additional info, or threaten the victim that they’ll stop their Social Security benefits if they don’t hand over their information.

Health InsuranceThese are automated calls show up with a local area code and prompt you to press any key to be connected right away to an agent who can sign you up for a new Medicare card. The spammers are “phishing” not only for bank or credit card information but also Social Security numbers and health plan ID numbers they can use for other types of fraud. People who work in the Marketplace don’t make cold calls, and they never ask for personal information. 

Student Loan Scam: Scammers call to pretend they are affiliated with the federal government, e.g. the National Student Aid Center or the U.S. Department of Education and will claim that a victim’s student loans have been flagged or pre-approved for refinancing. They will ask for sensitive information such as financial or personal information to proceed with the bunk claim.

 

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Targeting New Jersey residents with promises of Amazon stay-at-home jobs and chronic pain remedies, scammers will say just about anything to lure their next victim into their next scheme.

With that being said, here is this week’s top area code targeted by unwanted callers, the top cities affected, the growth in spam and fraud calls and the three scams hitting consumers during the area’s spike in calls.

Check out this week’s victim:

New Jersey residents living in the 848 area code.

Top 10 Cities include:

1) East Brunswick
2) Rahway
3) Toms River
4) Carteret
5) Sayreville
6) Perth Amboy
7) North Plainfield
8) Lakewood
9) Somerset
10) West Long Branch

Growth since January 2018 to Present:

Fraud Calls –  562%

Spam Calls –  517%

Top 3 Scams Hitting 848 Residents:

Amazon Recruiting Scam: Scammers are contacting victims about a work-at-home job opportunity at Amazon. The so-called opportunity would allow the individual to work using her computer for Amazon and would compensate them $500 for only working a couple hours. They’re then directed to a website at amzjobs.org or other renditions of the site. Unfortunately, this is not a legitimate site as Amazon’s official site is Amazon.jobs.

Chronic Pain Scam: Consumers are receiving spoofed robocalls claiming to have remedies to chronic pain and that the individuals has been approved through Medicare and Medicaid. To claim the remedies, scammers are requesting victims share personal information and instead of helping the victim they will steal their identity or gain access to the victim’s funds.

Car Warranty Scam: During the call – which often begins automated or pre-recorded the victim may be instructed to press a certain number or stay on the line, then asked to provide personal information, which potentially can be used to defraud the victim. The scammer may have specific information about the victim’s car and warranty that they use to deceive them into thinking they are a legitimate caller.

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Nothing in life is free, especially if you receive an offer for a free medical brace from Medicare. Targeting vulnerable senior citizens, scammers are making cold calls claiming to be from Medicare or a medical warehouse referred by the victim’s doctor.

How it works

The scammer offers the victim a free back or knee brace in exchange for personal information such as a Medicare number. Once they receive the information, it allows the scammer to make Medicare claims under the patient’s name.

When the victim agrees to receiving the so-called free back or knee brace, it may be free to them but in reality it’s costing Medicare and tax-payers thousands of dollars.

Why and How?

Scammers have figured out that Medicare will pay for back and knee braces since they have not reduced their reimbursement amounts for medical equipment.

With that being said, once the scammer gains access to the victim’s account, they will bill Medicare for the brace that actually costs far less than what they claim. Unfortunately, Medicare receives billions of claims per year, and only reviews about three precent of them, the remainder are signed off and paid for.

“Medicare ends up getting charged for every item the person received. Overall, Medicare fraud costs American taxpayers $60 billion every year. Just on back braces, taxpayers spent nearly $108 million between 2010 and 2016,” reports Medicare.

Aside from costing taxpayers, victims who receive the braces, either receive more than they need or low-quality braces that won’t even last them them the five years it would take Medicare to pay for a new one.

Tips on Mitigating Medicare Fraud

To avoid falling vicitm to  this scam here are a few tips from Medicare:

  • Only answer the phone if it’s a caller that you know.
  • If you do answer the phone and it’s a solicitor, hang up. If it’s a postcard or email, discard it.
  • Turn off or disregard TV ads offering free back or knee braces.
  • If you do talk to the solicitor, tell them you’re going to report them for Medicare fraud and you’d like to be removed from their list.
  • Never give out your Medicare card number, Social Security number, birth date, bank account info, or credit card number to an unknown party. This goes for over the phone, on email, or on social media.
  • Always double check your Medicare statement for errors.
  • Report instances of fraud to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.

 

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The FCC joins consumers in their growing frustration in phone carriers not yet providing an industry wide solution to the robocall problem.

FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai has had about enough, and sent a letter to over a dozen U.S. mobile providers demanding that the “phone industry adopt a robust call authentication system to combat illegal caller ID spoofing and launch that system no later than next year.”

Pointing out the importance of the needed service to all consumers, Pai included that carriers have also fallen behind from when they were initially asked for a solution. Pai said they will take action to make sure a solution is provided if providers do not have programs up and running by next year.

However, “Chairman Pai also thanked those companies that have committed to implementing a robust call authentication framework in the near term,” stated a FCC Press Release.

Since, the FCC’s first request to find a solution to the scourge of robocalls that have flooded our nation, The FCC was able to do the following:

• On July 17, the FCC requested public input on the best way to provide a reliable system to verify caller ID information.
• In May 2018, Chairman Pai accepted the implementation of SHAKEN/STIR, recommended by the North American Numbering Council. Since then, they’ve formed the governance authority for implementing the program and determines the policies that carriers and its calls are considered trusted enough to “sign” calls originating on their networks. Their next step is to find a policy administrator that will certify carriers that are authorized to approve a call as legitimate and the certification authorities will be chosen to provide the “keys” that digitally flag a call as legitimate.

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