Tag: Featured

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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And the tribe, or should we say our amazing Hiya employees have spoken, Hiya has won not one but two Comparably Awards in 2019!

Hiya is the winner of Best Outlook in 2019 and Best Company in Seattle. Comparably Awards are based on anonymous ratings from those with the best insight and judgment of the company, THEIR EMPLOYEES!

According to Comparably, winners of Best Outlook were determined based on a combination of two scores:

  1. Outlook, which measures responses to questions such as, “How confident are you about the future success of your company?” and “Are you typically excited about going to work each day?”
  2. Employee Net Promoter Score, which measures responses to the question, “How likely are you to recommend working at your company to a friend?”

As for Best Company in Seattle, based on a series of more than 50 structured and comprehensive workplace questions employees were asked to rate and comment on core culture categories including: Compensation, Leadership, Professional Development, Work-Life Balance, and Perks & Benefits to name a few.

“Comparably Awards recognize the companies that employees have deemed as the best of the best in multiple workplace culture categories,” said Jason Nazar, Comparably CEO. “Hiya’s inclusion on both the Best Company Outlook Awards and Best Places to Work in Seattle is a reflection of their transparent, collaborative, and innovative culture.”

Hiya prides themselves in providing a workplace that their employees are proud to work for and look forward to coming to each day. At Hiya we love what we do and we enjoy who we do it with. We are comprised of the best teams and celebrate and appreciate diversity and everyone who is being their authentic selves. We have high standards for excellence and take real ownership and pride in our work.

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If you thought you dodged the IRS scam this season, think again! Scammers are no longer disguising themselves as IRS agents but now have a new scheme, impersonating the Social Security Administration.

In a surprising turn of events, Hiya has discovered that the IRS scam has actually declined in recent months, with the Social Security scam taking its place as the most prevalent during this year’s tax season, surging more than 880% since last year.

Contacting unsuspecting citizens across the U.S., or even spoofing numbers to look like the SSA, automated calls claim that due to fraudulent activity, a victim’s social security number will be suspended until the call is returned to verify the account. Scammers will make multiple attempts to catch a victim’s attention, using scare tactics as a final attempt. They threaten the victim that if they do not call back a federal agent will be contacting them.

Based on Hiya’s analysis of more than 13 billion calls globally each month, Hiya’s data shows that the IRS scam peaked in August of 2018, but has since decreased by 60%. However, just as the IRS scam started to decrease, the Social Security scam started to pick up steam. In fact, since just the beginning of the year, it has grown 40%, with a whopping 880% growth since this time last year.

While some citizens have made a point not to take the calls seriously, the FTC reported that in 2018 over 35,000 citizens reported the scam equating to about $10 million in losses.

“Scammers are constantly evolving their tactics and looking for new ways to target unsuspecting consumers. The rise of the Social Security scam is a perfect example of this, as many Americans have become aware of the IRS scam and are less likely to fall victim to it,” said Alex Algard, Hiya Founder and CEO. “Hiya leverages real-time signals to identify new spam campaigns in minutes to ensure consumers are protected and informed about emerging scams.”

Top Areas Affected by the Social Security Scam:

  1. (301) Maryland
  2. (218) Minnesota
  3. (619) San Diego, CA
  4. (312) Chicago. IL
  5. (714) Anaheim, CA
  6. (240) Maryland
  7. (480) Phoenix, AZ
  8. (303) Denver, CO
  9. (806) Amarillo, TX
  10. (702) Las Vegas, NV

To avoid becoming a victim of the Social Security Scam here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. If you receive a call about your Social Security being suspended and bank account being seized, it’s a hoax. The SSA will not request that you verify your number over the phone without you expecting their call.
  2. SSA will never call to put threatening that your benefits are in jeopardy. They will never request you wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards.
  3. Despite your caller ID identifying a call to be the SSA, be aware that the official SSA number is 1-800-772-1213. If you receive, a call from the SSA or this number but are unsure if you are speaking with an official SSA agent, hang-up immediately and call SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213 to confirm you are speaking with an official SSA agent.
  4. Never give out your Social Security number, bank account information, or personal identification to unexpected callers.
  5. If you have been a victim or have received a call similar to the SSA scam, report it to the FTC and FCC to help raise awareness.
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Robocalls are making their way around the world! In Hiya’s first Global Robocall Radar Report, we’ve estimated that global spam calls have grown a whopping 325% to 85 billion worldwide. The report is based on an analysis of more than 12 billion calls per month worldwide, concluded that while unwanted calls are indeed very prevalent in the United States where regulators have taken notice, they are also growing rapidly at a global level. The report has pinpointed Spain, the UK, Italy, France, Argentina and the United States as the  countries who are the most affected by nuisance and fraudulent calls.

“As spam calls continue to skyrocket globally, the demand for protection from unwanted phone calls has increased drastically,” said Alex Algard, CEO of Hiya. “By combining industry-leading call spam detection with a solution that ensures calls from legitimate businesses are properly identified, it’s our mission to make sure everyone across the world can confidently answer their phone again.”

Hiya analyzes more than 12 billion mobile calls per month globally and then leverages its proprietary rule-based algorithm to identify these calls for consumers. Hiya’s Global Robocall Radar is calculated by extrapolating the total number of unwanted robocalls detected among Hiya’s user base as compared to the entire global population of mobile subscribers. In addition to observing that robocalls grew 325% to 85 billion in 2018, Hiya’s first Global Robocall Radar found the following:

Top 10 Countries With the Biggest Phone Spam Problem

For the top 10 countries with the biggest spam problem, below is a breakdown of the percentage of incoming calls that are not “saved to contacts” and are identified as spam (Spam Rate), in addition to the average number of monthly spam calls per user.

1). Spain:

  • Spam Rate: 24%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 9

2). UK:

  • Spam Rate: 22%;
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 7

3). Italy:

  • Spam Rate: 21%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 6

4). France:

  • Spam Rate: 20%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 7

5). Argentina:

  • Spam Rate: 10%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 3

6). United States:

  • Spam Rate: 10%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 7

7). Mexico:

  • Spam Rate: 9%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 6

8). Brazil:

  • Spam Rate: 9%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 8

9). Chile:

  • Spam Rate: 9%
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 4

10). Australia:

  • Overall Spam Rate: 6%;
  • Monthly Spam Calls Per User: 2

Most Prevalent Spam “Campaigns” Worldwide:

  • Bank Account Scam: Callers pretend to be an official representative of the bank and request sensitive information or items which will allow them to access the victim’s bank account.  
  • Extortion/Kidnapping: These scammers call random phone numbers and demand payment for the return of a “kidnapped” family member or friend.
  • Credit Card Scam: Thieves will trick victims out of their personal information. They might call, posing as their bank, to “assist” while phishing for card details. Random scammers might even call hotel rooms acting as the front desk to “confirm” credit card details.
  • Wangiri Scam (“One Ring”): For years, the Wangiri scam, also known as the ‘One-Ring Scam,’ has been preying on victims and enticing them to call back international numbers. The victim in this case does not realize that they’re being charged for premium rates.
  • Neighbor Scam: Phone fraudsters use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software to mimic (also known as spoofing) the first few digits of a user’s phone number to trick consumers into thinking a nearby friend or business is calling.
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