Tag: Featured

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 346 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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This past week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made a point to share with phone carriers his disappointment in the lack of traction they’ve made in providing consumers with a solution to the robocall problem.

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:

Texas residents living in the 346 area code.

Top 10 Cities include:

1) Roseberg
2) South Houston
3) Pasadena
4) The Woodlands
5) Cloverleaf
6) Missouri City
7) Spring
8) Deer Park
9) Friendswood
10) La Porte

Growth since January 2018 to Present:

Fraud Calls – 1183%

Spam Calls – 888%

Top 3 Scams Hitting 346 Residents:

Veteran Campaign: Taking advantage of veteran’s seeking benefits, scammers have set up a phone number almost identical to the number veterans use to find out if they are eligible to use approved health care providers outside of the VA system. Once called, it prompts victims to leave their credit card information in return for a non-existent rebate.

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.

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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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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 The midterm elections on Nov. 6th mean that Americans are now receiving an influx of politically-related calls – both legitimate and scam. While party reps are dialing for donation dollars, scammers are scheming, hoping to steal money by blending in with the political mix. Hiya, the global leader in phone spam protection, today announced that based on analysis of 5.3 billion calls each month, political scam calls across the country have gone up a whopping 700% YoY and that number is expected to continue to rise as Americans near midterms in early November.

“Americans, now more than ever, need to be wary of unexpected calls as these scammers look for opportunities to leverage the divisiveness of the current climate and we expect political calls to consumers to skyrocket in response,” said Jonathan Nelson, director of product management at Hiya. “Scammers will use any tactic to steal the money or identity of unsuspecting Americans, and this midterm season presents their latest opportunity.”

Coast to coast, red states, blue states, and swing states, scammers are hitting up every part of the nation. Here are the top 10 area codes where scam calls appear to originate:

  1. 202 – Washington, D.C.
  2. 256 – Alabama (Northern and Eastern)
  3. 419 – Ohio (Northwest)
  4. 614 – Columbus, Ohio
  5. 517 – Michigan (South Central – Lansing, Charlotte)
  6. 205 – Birmingham, Alabama
  7. 678 – Atlanta, Georgia
  8. 470 – Atlanta, Georgia
  9. 512 – Austin, Texas
  10. 281 – Houston, Texas

In the last month, the most common types of political scam calls are:

  • Voting Campaigns: Consumers may receive calls asking to vote by phone or text message, which is a red flag and indicates that these are scam calls. Despite how advanced technology has become over the years, Americans still cannot vote via a phone call or text message. If a consumer receives a call requesting to vote, they should hang up immediately. Votes can only be cast through mail or in-person.
  • Political Charity/Donation Scams: When it seems like scammers call so frequently, people are naturally skeptical when they receive an unexpected call asking for money. Consumers should use the same caution when they receive a call claiming to be a political party representative or an election committee member. However, some of these calls are legitimate. So, before signing a check to show support, it’s important to get the caller’s contact information and confirm the organization or campaign to donate directly to the viable source.
  • Political Surveys: Who doesn’t want to win a prize? But the cost of consumers’ personal information isn’t worth it. Scammers know that enticing consumers with an incentive like free trips or gift cards is an easy way to trick them into stealing their money. While claiming to be conducting a survey on behalf of a political party, scammers will refer to a controversial headline in the news to show credibility. Then, they claim the consumer has won if they provide a credit card number to pay for shipping, taxes, or handling of the “prize.” Be aware that official polling companies will never offer prizes for participating in a survey. They will also never ask for personal or financial information.
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Last week, the the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that consumers keep an eye out for calls from SSA Customer Service. The SSA began receiving an increase in reports regarding the calls and are warning consumers to hang-up immediately.

According to the SSA, “These reports indicate the calls display the 1-800-772-1213, SSA’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on caller ID. People who have accepted the calls said the caller identifies as an SSA employee. In some cases, the caller states that SSA does not have all of the person’s personal information, such as their Social Security number (SSN), on file. Other callers claim SSA needs additional information so the agency can increase the person’s benefit payment, or that SSA will terminate the person’s benefits if they do not confirm their information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from citizens across the country.”

Here are a few tips to remember in case you receive a questionable call from the SSA:

  1. The SSA will never contact consumers by phone for customer-service purposes. They will never threaten citizens for information or offer Social Security benefit approval or increases in exchange for information.
  2. If you receive an unexpected call from SSA or any other association asking for personal information, hang-up immediately and contact them through their official number to confirm if they are in need of the so-called information that was requested.
  3. Never share personal or financial information over the phone, unless you have confirmed that you are speaking with a legitimate associate.
  4. If you have been a victim of this scam or have received this type of call, please report it to the FTC to help prevent others from becoming a victim.
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As scam and fraud calls continue to victimize residents across the country, Hiya has decided to do our due diligence by providing a weekly update on the top area codes targeted by these unwanted callers.

We’ll be providing the area code, top cities affected, the growth in spam and fraud calls, and the top three scams hitting consumers during the spike in calls.

Check out this week’s victim:

Massachusetts residents living in the 781 area code.

Top 10 Cities include:
1) Dedham
2) Saugus
3) Reading
4) Stoneham
5) Wakefield
6) Weymouth
7) Arlington
8) Lynn
9) Medford
10) Needham

Growth since January 2018 to Present:

Fraud Calls –  492%

Scam Calls – 350%

Top 3 Scams Hitting 781 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.
Apple Support: Using the spoofing technique, scammers are posing as Apple Customer Service calling in regards to a notification of a possible virus on the victim’s device. After the scammer informs the victim of the so-called virus, they offer to fix the issue and ask for access to their device. Unfortunately, victims who fall for this scam not only give scammers access to financial and personal information, but are then duped into paying for their services through Apple iTunes gift cards.
Utility Scam: Scammer use three utility scam tactics to take advantage of consumers.

  •      Offers to lower utility bill. Scammers call to offer a plan to help lower the consumer’s electric bill. This will usually include asking the homeowner for account information and/or billing information to “review” the account.
  •      Threats to shut off electricity. Scammers will call to threaten that electricity will be shut off unless an overdue payment is made immediately. Consumers will also be directed to call an 800 number to avoid a service interruption. Watch out for messages that urge consumers to act fast, “This is an urgent public service announcement regarding your electricity bill.”
  •      Federal program assistance. The call will usually say the consumer is eligible for a reduced rate due to a federal program.
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Robocall scammers have taken their schemes to another level. They are now using your mom, co-worker, or even a local neighbor’s phone number to reel victims into their new spoofing campaign.

However, the FCC had had enough and put their foot down by proposing a $37.5 million fine against the Arizona-based company that allegedly made 2.3 million spoofed telemarketing calls.

Beginning in 2016, the consumer spoofing campaign lasted for about 14 months, which not only included legitimate consumer phone numbers, but also used unassigned phone numbers or numbers on burner phones. Since the spoofing did not include the caller’s actual name and number, it violates caller ID laws.

The fine has not been confirmed, since the FCC is still waiting on a response from the company about their settlement proposal, but they have also fined a man for $82 million for making 21 million robocalls using spoofed numbers.



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As if the worry of whether or not their power lines could withstand the madness of Hurricane Lane these past few weeks, Hawaii’s Electric companies, just can’t get a break as scammers are now targeting Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai’i Electric Light, by demanding payments in bitcoin, a digital currency, or else their services will be shut off.

“The Hawaiian Electric Companies urge their customers that as all other US utilities, the companies do not accept bitcoin as a form of payment.  According to Utilities United Against Scams, earlier this month a rising surge of bitcoin scammers began targeting utility customers on the US mainland, demanding bitcoin to pay supposedly “past due” bills,” reported Maui Now.

How the scam works is victims will receive a call with a callback number and automated prompts, which are also used by legitimate Hawaiian Electric companies. They then will provide a QC code to scan for payment at a bitcoin machine, which will then convert dollars into the digital currency.

To avoid becoming a victim of this scam, Maui Electric would like all customers to follow the tips below:

  • Any calls demanding immediate payment from Hawaiian Electric Companies over the phone or via prepaid debit cards or bitcoin are scams.
  • Callers asking to meet for payment or providing directions to a bitcoin machine are scammers.
  • Callers who make threats of discontinuing services unless payments are made immediately are scammers.
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With the first day of school just around the corner, it seems like scammers ended summer break early as they’ve already gotten a head start on targeting college students with a number of back to school scams.

To help prevent you ambitious students with any additional stress this school year, here’s a list of the most common scams that are targeting students this 2018 school year:

Federal Grant Phone Scam
The government grant scam lures studnets in with a few questions that may qualify them for a grant. The questions may seem innocent up until they throw the victim a curve ball requesting that they give them financial information so they’re able to deposit the so-called grant into their checking account.

Student Loan Scam
Student loans are inevitable, so finding a victim is pretty easy for scammers. Preying off their vulnerability, scammers are able to dupe victims into handing over their private and financial information with promises of debt relief.

Student Tax Scam
Just when they least expect it, students may receive a “call” that has slapped them with an additional “federal student tax” related to either their student loan, taxes, or even an overdue parking ticket. If payment isn’t wired immediately, they’ll be reported to the police.

Roommate & Rental Scams
Craigslist has been a source for finding roommates for quite some time now, and scammers are taking advantage of the mass amounts of students who rely on the service to find the ideal living situation. The most obvious red flag for scams like these is a conveniently located apartment at a very low rate. For those who unfortunately fall for this, they can become victims of fake background check services, credit report sites stealing personal information, or additional unnecessary fees to the landlord.

Social Media & Phone Survey Scams
A majority of survey scams start with a social media post or phone call promising an unbelievable prize from a raffle or survey you may (or may not) have entered. As one racks their brain wondering what they may have unknowingly entered, one can’t help but feel that what they’re offering is too good to be true. If one gets that gut feeling, it probably is. These scams are out to steal personal information, or requests for payment before you can receive your prize.

Here’s how you can protect yourself:

  1. Stay up to date on the latest scams that are trending. Keeping yourself informed will make you less of a target and more prepared when scammers call.
  2. If you receive an unexpected call requesting you share personal or financial information, or that you need to make payments immediately, hang-up. Verify that the call is legitimate by calling the official number of the institution they claim to be from.
  3. If you’ve been victimized or have received a call similar to any of the scams above, please report the scam to the FCC to help raise awareness and prevent your peers from becoming the next victim.
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