— There’s a good chance the next caller on your cell
phone will try to take your money or steal your
statistic comes from First Orion, an Arkansas-based call
management company that estimates nearly 30 percent of
all cell-phone calls came from scammers this year. The
firm predicts nearly half of all mobile calls will be
fraudulent in 2019.
robocall scams often play on anxiety and greed, offering
suspiciously cheap health insurance plans, “free”
vacations, deferred student-loan payments, and, in one
case, a job at Amazon that you can do from home.
scam-call surge is driven by technology that has made it
cheaper to place robocalls and easier to mask the
scammers’ identities. “Neighborhood spoofing,” for
example, allows scammers to place calls that appear to
come from local numbers. First Orion predicts 9 in 10
scam calls will come from a familiar area code in 2019.
scammers are really sophisticated,” said Gavin
Macomber, First Orion’s senior vice president of
marketing and business development. “They do A-B
testing like us marketers do it in the legitimate
business world. If they try something and it works,
they’ll keep doing it.”
robocall epidemic has gotten so bad that the telecom
industry is working on a fix that would verify the
numbers of incoming calls as authentic and not spoofed,
so consumers can trust their caller IDs again. T-Mobile
says it’s ready to launch the technology, and Comcast
is conducting limited employee trials and expects to
deploy it to customers in 2019. Federal Communications
Commission Chairman Ajit Pai recently demanded that the
phone industry launch a call authentication system no
later than next year
then, beware of these top robocall scams that try to get
you to pick up the phone and give away personal
HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS
the most rampant robocall scams right now are
health-care related, according to YouMail, a California
company that offers free and paid robocall blocking
applications. YouMail estimates there were nearly 500
million robocalls for health-care scams in October,
making up nearly 10 percent of the 5.1 billion robocalls
placed that month.
identity-theft or payment scams are particularly
effective because it’s open enrollment season for
health insurance plans and consumers expect to share
sensitive information when enrolling, said Alex Quilici,
just treat it like they just visited an agent,” he
health insurance spammer sent more than 250 million
calls using roughly 264 different numbers from an area
code in Newark, N.J., YouMail reported in September.
can now get a great insurance plan at the price you can
afford,” said one spam caller in October. “We make
it hassle-free to sign up with policies with Cigna, Blue
Cross, Aetna, United(Healthcare), and many more. Press
one to get a hassle-free assessment.”
you for your time,” the female voice concludes. “And
as always, be happy and blessed.”
robocall scam that has spiked in recent weeks is like
something out of a horror movie: The call is coming from
inside the house.
make calls that appear to come from your own phone
number, and they’ll pretend to be telecoms warning
that an account has been locked or compromised, said
Aaron Foss, founder of Nomorobo, an app that screens and
blocks robocalls and is free for landlines and $1.99 per
month for mobile. In some cases, the scammers already
know whom they’re calling and are seeking more
account has been flagged for security purposes,” said
one robocall recorded by Nomorobo. “After the tone,
please enter the last four digits of the primary account
holder’s Social Security number.”
Philadelphia, some people have received calls appearing
to come from WolfBlock, a renowned local law firm that
closed in 2009.
these spoofing techniques are spooky, pretending to be a
major business has become a regular robocall strategy.
Scammers spoof caller IDs to show the real numbers of
legitimate businesses to convince consumers they are
authentic, experts said.
caused problems for big brands whose phone numbers have
been hijacked for scams. Wireless carriers and
third-party applications have blocked or mislabeled real
business phone numbers as spam, said Bensalem-based
Stuart Discount, CEO of the Professional Association for
Customer Engagement, a trade association for companies
that utilize contact centers.
been fighting for some kind of notification,” he said.
“If you’re going to block our number, that’s fine.
But at least allow the company to know it was
You’ve earned enough points to get “an amazingly,
drastically discounted vacation,” according to one of
the top robocallers.
and vacation scams were the No. 1 reported scam call in
a First Orion survey of 5,000 American mobile phone
users conducted in June.
a scammer will pretend to offer a free or discounted
vacation to Disney World or the Bahamas, telling victims
they only need to pay a nominal booking fee to secure
the deal, said Macomber, of First Orion, which offers a
free call-blocking app for consumers.
then they’ll hit you for a credit card right there and
then, and a lot of people give it to them,” he said.
travel-scam robocaller identified by YouMail used a neat
trick to dupe consumers. The prerecorded voice asks
questions and pauses for answers, creating the
appearance of an actual conversation.
OPPORTUNITY AT AMAZON
not coming to Philadelphia, but a ubiquitous “Sarah
from AmazonProfits.org” says you can still work for
the web giant from home.
claims to have already seen your online resumé and
suggests you register right away for the chance to earn
$17 to $32 an hour for simply “listing products and
posting reviews online in your spare time.” That’s
better pay than the actual company’s recently raised
offer is fake and is common among the estimated 144
million “easy money” scam robocalls placed last
month, according to YouMail.
guess would be the easy money scams are not very
successful,” said Quilici, of YouMail. “But if
you’re low income, you’re desperate. … You fall
OVER STUDENT LOANS
student loan debt crisis has inspired one of the most
prevalent robocall scams. There were nearly 102 million
student-loan-related robocall scams in October, the
fourth-highest scam category that month, according to
falsely claims that the Department of Education is “no
longer accepting entry into the federal student loan
forgiveness program.” (The Public Service Loan
Forgiveness program has rejected 98 percent of borrowers
who applied for forgiveness since October 2017, so the
scam sounds believable.)
place your file and long term forbearance and stop all
future due payments, press five on your phone now,”
the message says.
is similar to credit-card scams, in which scammers
pretend to offer low interest rates in exchange for a
credit card or Social Security number, Quilici said