Relief scams were among the top phone scams in the US, according to Hiya’s Q3 Global Call Threat Report, which reveals spam rates in 39 countries worldwide and details the most prominent types of scam calls in select countries.
Rather than being a single scam, relief scams cover various topics. Hiya users report getting calls offering debt relief, tax relief, credit card relief, mortgage relief, pandemic relief, and more. Often, these scams will increase following announcements of new programs for student loan relief, COVID relief, and other government-funded relief programs.
Relief scams (yellow line) rank among the top phone scams, with around 300 users reporting various relief scams weekly.
Samples of robocalls offering relief
Below are examples of robocalls offering some type of relief. These come from the Hiya honeypot, a collection of more than 100,000 Hiya-owned phone numbers used to record and analyze incoming calls. The honeypot is one of the many tools Hiya uses to identify spam campaigns so it can block scam calls and label nuisance calls.
“This is a very urgent and time sensitive message from Relief Advisory Agency about funding your hardship account. You have been prequalified for a $31,000 hardship benefit to pay your bills. So, if you have unsecured debt totaling over $10,000 this money is the solution you've been looking for. Call us now at 866-924-3393 to enroll in the publicly backed debt elimination program that provides funding to help you get out of your unpaid bills.”
“Hi. This is Kelsey with IRS Tax Relief. I'm reaching out because I noticed that you might have some tax debt and I wanted to offer my assistance in finding you a solution. Are you familiar with the IRS Fresh Start Program?
Hi. This is Michael calling from the Relief Center. I'm reaching out to you about our assistance program. The benefit is up to $20,000. So if you're struggling with credit cards at this time and you could use some assistance, please give me a call. We're ready to help you out and answer any questions that you have.”
What users are reporting
In addition to the honeypot, Hiya also analyzes user reports to learn more about ongoing spam campaigns. Consumers using Hiya Protect via their carrier, device manufacturer, or the Hiya mobile app can tap a prompt on their handset to report the call. Hiya receives millions of user reports each month.
Users can also leave a comment about the call they just received. These often provide additional details about the call. Here’s what users have been saying about a wide variety of relief scams they’ve received:
“They call about tax relief every day. I block the calls, and they call back from other phone numbers.”
“They claim to be calling me about student loan debt relief. They call 6 times a day.”
“Pain relief scam targeting Medicare patients.”
“Credit card relief. They call spoofing the number like it’s a local call. That tells me it's a scam.”
“Says they’re contacting me about the money my business is owed from the COVID W2 relief funds. I don’t own a business.”
“Hi! I wanted to let you know about a new grant available now that provides financial relief to businesses!”
“Claimed to be from Breast Cancer Relief. Not sure if robo or telemarketer.”
“Claims I called them for debt relief, which is laughable. Wanted my banking information.”
Learn more about phone scams worldwide
Want to learn more about phone scams affecting consumers in the US and other countries throughout the world? Download Hiya’s Q3 Global Call Threat Report. The report highlights the most common scam calls in the US, Canada, the UK, Spain, France, Germany and Brazil.
The report also provides spam and fraud rates in the 39 countries Hiya tracks. Charts in the report break down spam and fraud rates by region, including Europe, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region. You can download the report below.