Tag: Scam

Note: This kidnapping scam has been making its way around Western Washington recently, namely Central Park, Aberdeen and Thurston. Always remember to verify that the alleged kidnappee is safe before falling victim to this extortion scam. These scammers are aggressive and convincing, thus making them very dangerous.

There’s a rising phone scam making its way around the states and it’s the scariest one we’ve seen yet: a kidnapping scam. This scam hits your bank account and your biggest fears.

You answer an unknown call to the sound of someone screaming followed by the chilling sound of someone telling you that they have kidnapped your child or relative. The kidnapper immediately demands money and insists that you stay on the line. They say they are tracking your phone and your location. They will harm your loved one. The only way to end this nightmare and get your relative home safely is to wire them money. You wire them the money.

It is only after the call is over that you realize you’ve been scammed. Whether you race home or call your child or relative in a panic to ensure they’re ok, you find out that they’ve been safe all along. It was all a scam.

So what do you do if you get one of these calls? The FBI has provided the following advice:

Ask the kidnapper(s) questions: can you speak with your loved one, ask them to describe your loved one’s appearance, ask questions only your relative would know (name of a pet, etc).

Request that the kidnappers call back from your relative’s phone. Meanwhile, try to contact your loved one. Find another phone and call 911 or your loved one from there. Try texting or using social media to reach your relative.

Buy yourself some time by repeating the request, or simply asking for more time.

Don’t challenge or fight with the caller (actual kidnappings do happen, after all).

Lastly, after all is said and done, be sure to report the kidnapping scam to your local authorities. You can also report the number through various channels such as the FTC and BBB.

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T-minus 21 days until Election Day, ‘Merica. November 8. The day this political barrage is put to rest. The day the negativity stops [wishful thinking?]. The day we all learn who will be our next President. Until then… [ring!]

“Hi, I’m Donald Trump…”

Political robocalls. They’re still here, they’re still legal, and they’re coming for you. Hide your kids, hide your wives. No one’s safe, not even those on the DNC list (unless you live in New Hampshire, the lucky devils). To no surprise, legal political calls have been on the rise, increasing 64% since January. These legitimate calls can be robocalls or, if you’re lucky, a live volunteer asking for your support.

With such a spirited and divided voter base this year, you can bet your buns each candidate is trying to get their message into as many households as possible. Would it surprise you to learn that, in the last 30 days, Trump’s campaign has made 388% more outgoing calls to consumers than Clinton’s campaign? Why might that be? Is it indicative of the state of the election? Or what about the fact that some of Clinton’s biggest area codes for originating calls come from swing states Florida and Pennsylvania?

Now, if your phone rings and the caller ID says “Trump for President” or “Clinton for President”, would you answer? Twenty bucks says you wouldn’t and I wouldn’t bet against me. I have data on my side. Hiya teamed up with Harris Poll to tap into the thoughts of our average Americans (2,007 adults, all legally able to buy lottery tickets). 76% of Americans said they would be “not very” or “not at all” likely to answer a call if they knew it was regarding a political campaign or donation.

Lucky for that 76% (or the 24% of unicorns who actually want to answer a political call…), Hiya’s in the business of helping you decide whether or not to answer a call. Now, when either campaign calls, you can see the caller ID and make the game-time decision.

Top 5 Clinton Area Codes (where calls originate):

  • 202 (Washington, D.C.)
  • 646 (Manhattan, NY)
  • 215 (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 315 (Syracuse, NY)
  • 561 (Palm Beach County, FL)

Top 5 Trump Area Codes (where calls originate):

  • 202 (Washington, D.C.)
  • 646 (Manhattan, NY)
  • 315 (Syracuse, NY)
  • 585 (Rochester, NY)
  • 310 (Los Angeles, CA)

On the other side of that presidential coin, there are political calls no one should ever answer. We identify those as well. Growing at an enormous rate are political scams. Since January, political scam calls have increased at an alarming 614%. Some scammers want your money promising free cruises if you take a political survey (with a one-time fee, of course). Other scammers want your information by pretending to verify your registration information. Learn more about the more popular political scams here. In the meantime, be extra wary of political calls coming from these area codes:

Top 5 Political Scam Area Codes (where calls originate):

  • 213 (Los Angeles, CA)
  • 803 (Columbia, SC)
  • 312 (Chicago, IL)
  • 281 (Houston, TX)
  • 212 (Manhattan, NY)

The good news is, there is an end in sight: November 8. 20 more days. Let the countdown begin.

20 days, 23 hours, 59 seconds…

20 days, 23 hours, 58 seconds…

20 days, 23 hours, 57 seconds…

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Thanks to iOS 10, you can now say good-bye to receiving all those unexpected phone calls from scammers and local telemarketers on your iPhone!

As you update your iPhone to the latest version of iOS, you’ll be able to take advantage of how third-party apps, like Hiya, can now identify and automatically block unwanted calls.

Raving about Hiya’s free application, Lets Unlock iPhone gives you a step-by-step guide to how you can start blocking unwanted spam calls on your iPhone once you download the Hiya app. Check it out, oh and let’s not forget the iPhone 7’s new waterproof feature, by clicking the image below:


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 from Blasting News takes a deep dive into Hiya’s updated app for iOS 10. With spam calls on the rise and users falling victim daily, Apple’s CallKit extension, that allows 3rd party developers to access the phone platform, is a welcome change. Now, unknown calls can be identified and known spammers and scammers can be kept at bay.

To learn about Hiya and how the app can help protect your phone, click on the image below.

blasting news

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Growing up, there was one birthday card I was always hesitant to open. It was one from a family friend who liked to put glitter on the inside of cards to “make them fun.” When I first opened one of these glitter bombs, my naïve 7-year-old self thought it was cool. Then I had to clean it. I just got a chore for my birthday, thanks. Much like glitter to a carpet, the act of spoofing isn’t going away anytime soon.

Spoofing is when the caller ID on your phone has been manipulated to hide the true identity of the caller, be it the number, name, or both. It’s tempting to answer a call and provide information to a caller when you think you know who they are or where they’re calling from. And that’s exactly what “spoofers”, for lack of a better sounding term, are counting on.

Take a quick look at some of the more common spoofing phone scams so you can be weary if one comes around.

Common Spoofing Scams:
IRS Scam
Student Loan Scam
Jury Duty Scam
Grandparent Scam

What to do if you suspect you’re on the phone with a spammer:
Hang up. The longer you’re on the phone with them, the more chances they have to convince you to fork over personal information or wire them money.

Do a little recon. If you want to ensure peace of mind and verify that you haven’t indeed missed a free cruise, then look up the number. Is it legit? Sweet, you’re the .00001% who scored a sweet deal, pack your sunscreen and call them back. If you’re with the rest of the 99.9999% population [you are], then you just saved yourself from a scam.

Report it. For every person that thinks, “I’m sure somebody else already reported this, so I won’t,” a puppy dies. Save the puppies. Report the scam.

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Spam and scam – two words that look and sound very similar. To many people, they essentially mean the same: trouble. Here at Hiya, we use these words a lot when we talk about phone security. As we continue to follow our mission of protecting our users from unwanted calls, we want to make sure that they know how to identify a spam or scam call.

We’ve found however, that the lines can become blurry between a spam versus a scam call. So we’re taking a moment to set the record straight and find out what the real difference is.  

A Bunch of Junk – Spam Calls Explained

Our Data and Reputation Services team are experts when it comes to detecting the newest phone spam or scam. They know what distinguishes a spam from a scam call and what you should do if you get one. This is how Jan Volzke, our VP of Reputation Services, explains a spam call,

“Spam calls are similar to email spam in the sense that they’re a form of unwanted communication. Spam calls and text messages are distributed in bulk and in most cases unsolicited, which means they occur without any prior request. Examples may include telemarketers, who are typically live agents hoping to sell their legitimate (albeit unsolicited) services. Another variant of spam calls are robocalls, which deliver a pre-recorded voice statement with the same goal of a sale. Like email spam, robocalls are illegal without prior consent.”

It is also interesting to monitor the call patterns of Spam calls. Call patterns exhibit unique characteristics that allow sophisticated heuristic algorithms to identify Spam calls. Here is a pattern for a number used by Telemarketers:

The pattern shows that Telemarketers consistently make a large number of calls over a long period of time. The daily volumes do not vary by much.

Cheats, Thieves, Swindlers – Meet the Scammers

Here is how Jan defines a scam call,

“Scam calls are a form of fraudulent activity with the goal of stealing your money or your information. Similar to email scams, phone scams often present a bargain for merchandise, or something completely free (such as a free prize or winning a contest). Others demand payment for actions that victims have not done or services not ordered, including missing jury duty or payments on an outstanding debt like unpaid taxes or utility bills. Scams may arrive in form of either calls or text messages and should be blocked or deleted.”

Call patterns for Scam calls are completely different. Since these are criminals, they use one number for a short duration of time and quickly discard it. Here is the call pattern for a number used to propagate an IRS scam. The lifespan of the number is very short and the volumes are bursty in nature – a few days of large amounts of calls, followed by a long period of no activity.


Scam calls are harder to identify because of how short their lifespan is. Criminals are getting smarter and frequently switching numbers to avoid detection. Most anti-spam solutions that rely on user reports are ineffective against scam callers for this very reason.  Advanced heuristics-based call pattern analysis and machine learning algorithms help detect scam calls.

Whether it’s a spam or a scam call, the best thing to do is avoid engaging with these numbers. If you happen to pick up a call that seems suspicious, hang up immediately. An unwanted call may at best be annoying and at worst may lead consumers into costly traps.

If you want to put an end to all those pesky calls, we’ve got you covered. The Hiya mobile app provides you with real-time alerts of incoming calls that are marked as suspected spam or scam. By blocking and blacklisting numbers, you can stop repeat spammers and scammers from ever ringing through to you. Say bye to spam and scam with Hiya.

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We’ve all been guilty of clogging up our smartphones with apps. But over time, some people have learned to limit the number of apps they have on their phones for a variety of reasons, while others are quick to test a cool new app, but soon delete it if it isn’t worth keeping around.

However, no matter how you find and organize the apps you use, it’s all about knowing what to look for in a high-quality mobile app that makes the process easier.

When it comes to a caller ID app that’s versatile and you can see yourself using on a daily basis, it’s even more important to make sure you’re picking the right one.

Here are five things to look for in a mobile caller ID app:

1  Awesome data sources: The most immediate advantage offered by a caller ID app is how it identifies incoming calls and text messages. Gone are the days of debating on whether you’ll pick up a call. Now you’ll immediately know if you want to answer, ignore or even block future calls from the number. Because you’ll be making big decisions based on what your app tells you, it’s crucial that the data used by the app is accurate and up to date. Hiya leverages a reliable, consistently updated database to provide you the best info possible.

2  ID for both text and calls: The use of texting has become a practical and easy alternative to phone calls, it makes so much more sense, that many people want to identify not only voice calls, but text messages too. A caller ID app that doesn’t provide this service means limited effectiveness and a lot of time spent trying to figure out who is texting you and why. Hiya delivers info on incoming calls and texts, giving you complete coverage on both methods of communication.

3  Detect and avoid spam: Why go through the process of determining if an incoming call is spam when the right app can do it for you? Hiya not only identifies the person or company trying to call your phone, it also lets you know if that person has been reported in the past as a telemarketer, scammer or annoying caller. With that initial information, you can choose to ignore those calls and avoid what could be a costly phone call.

4  Block unwanted callers: Having more control over your calls means you should also get to choose which calls you receive. Finding a caller ID app that gives you that capability will brighten up your day because it stops unwanted calls from interrupting you. Hiya  lets you block any phone number—spam or not. So whether you want to block that telemarketer, or don’t ever want to take a call from your ex again, Hiya has you covered.

5  Customization and ease of use: A smart caller ID app allows users to change settings and make decisions that create a personalized and more individually effective program. With the Hiya app, you can customize how your caller identity shows up when calling other app users. It helps them recognize that it’s you and gets more of your calls answered. A lot of that is due to a simple integration with Facebook or LinkedIn. When you connect Hiya to one of your social profiles, you automatically get your name and photo updated on your caller identity.

Need to see more? Check out some of our other cool features like location and photo sharing by watching our video.


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Being a victim of a phone scam is never fun, and here at Hiya we’re doing our best to protect and prevent you from being a scammer’s next victim. In our monthly round up of the “Worst Phone Scams of the Month,” we’ll keep you posted on the latest scams that are affecting fellow smartphone users, by informing you about the latest trends in phone fraud and text messaging attacks.

This past month, we have confirmed a number of SMiShing attacks in the U.S for Bank of America while text messages for Scotiabank and Canadian Bank of Imperial Commerce (CIBC) are affecting our neighbors to the North.

As for AT&T and Apple customers, there is an increase of SMiShing in the United Kingdom amongst Apple ID, iCloud ID, and iTunes accounts. Messages will warn customers that their accounts have either been deactivated or suspended, or have had too many unsuccessful login attempts, and to verify their information through a link.

Lastly, despite tax season being over, scammers are making their way internationally through text message attacks from HM Revenue & Customs in the United Kingdom. Luckily, HMRC has caught on and has notified their customers that they “will never ask for personal/payment information by text or email”.


Below is our monthly Smishing sampling for you to keep an eye on:

Apple4Apple3 Apple2 Apple1 BOA2 BOA1 CIBC1 HMRC3 HMRC2 HMRC1



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Let’s be honest, it’s all about the Benjamins. Whether you’re getting them or giving them, it’s all Benjamins all the time. #LifeMotto. Unfortunately, the never-ending IRS phone scam has more and more people unnecessarily losing money to fraudsters. I see new articles every day about this IRS Scam and how it’s tricking people all over the country. Since its inception, over $36.5 million dollars has been collected by IRS scammers – and that’s only from 6,400 victims. That’s over $5,700 lost per victim!

With proper app protection, these calls should never get through to users. However, scammers can be conniving little devils and knowing what a scam looks like can help save you, should one ever get through the line of defense. Let’s break it down.

Top Area Codes Associated with the IRS Scam

  1. 202 (Washington, D.C.)
  2. 509 (Spokane and eastern WA)
  3. 206 (Seattle, WA)
  4. 360 (Western WA)
  5. 347 (New York City, NY)
  6. 253 (Southern WA)
  7. 315 (Upstate NY)
  8. 832 (Houston, TX)
  9. 914 (Westchester County, NY)
  10. 646 (New York City, NY)

Five Ways to Identify an IRS Scammer

  1. They call you. Hang up. The end.
  2. The call comes through as “IRS”, “FBI”, “US Treasury”, etc.
  3. They know basic details but ask for sensitive information like birth date or social security number.
  4. They demand immediate payment via prepaid debit, wired money transfer, etc.
  5. They use scare tactics like threatening to call the police.

IRS scammers also leave urgent voicemails and over 17 percent of users will respond. During peak tax season, the average callback lasts about 26 seconds. Think of the last time you were cornered into a conversation by that awkward coworker and then you’ll know how long 26 seconds can really be.

Stay safe and alert your loved ones. I can think of a million other ways that I’d like to spend $5,700. I’m sure you can too.

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We all know scam callers are out there. They need to stop. The question shouldn’t be, “What do I do after I have gotten scammed?” The question should be, “How do I avoid getting scammed in the first place?” Follow John Holt as he poses this very question – and highlights a little app that you might recognize. 

“If you use a smartphone, there’s an app[…] called Hiya that will block calls associated with scam numbers. The app stops calls from suspected scammers and informs you that one of them tried to reach you.”

Read more about how to block spam calls by clicking on the image below!

scam block


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