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Security Trends for May 2022

Fraudsters, criminals, and illegal telemarketers are always thinking of new ways to cheat people out of their money or personal information. That’s why each month Hiya puts a spotlight on the latest threats and trends affecting the voice platform. Here’s the update for May 2022.

The Eavesdropping Scam

Early in 2022, we highlighted a new scam call that Hiya dubbed “The Eavesdropping Scam.” With this scheme, the scammer calls the recipient and leaves a vague voicemail in order to get a callback. It’s similar to the Wangiri scam in that the goal is for the recipient to call back to a Premium Rate Number where per-minute fees are applied to the call, and the scammer gets a portion of those fees. In the Wangiri scam, the phone rings once and then the caller hangs up. The eavesdropping scam deploys a new tactic by actually leaving a message intended to pique the recipient’s interest in order to generate a callback. 

In January and February, the eavesdropping scam accounted for more than 30% of all scam calls to Hiya’s “honeypot,” which captures inbound calls and analyzes them for fraud and spam content. Fortunately, Hiya’s advanced call protection software flagged more than 90% of the calls before reaching consumers. 

It’s interesting to note that more than half of eavesdropping calls were able to attain a STIR/SHAKEN attestation level of B or C because the scammers used legitimate numbers (not spoofed), people called them back (indicating they wanted the call), and the content of their voicemails was so vague it did not contain any common fraud-related keywords. This is just the latest trend we’ve noticed as scammers continue to get more sophisticated in reaction to carriers, analytics engines, and government crackdowns.

Illegal callers are churning through phone numbers

Hiya continues to observe scammers churn through telephone numbers at a high rate, in an effort to frequently rotate out numbers that have a bad reputation. Number dumping is easy for scammers, as new telephone numbers are cheap to purchase, scammers can stay anonymous, and most spam blocking/labeling solutions on the market take a long time to react to new numbers. 

Currently, 51% of the spam reports that Hiya receives are for numbers we’ve seen fewer than 10 times in the last 90 days. This shows that scammers are not static, and they change both their numbers and their tactics to evade detection. Because of this, Hiya has recently launched a new, advanced technology that uses Adaptive AI to identify the tactics of a spammer, rather than simply targeting phone numbers that have a history of making spam calls. Learn how Adaptive AI works

Spoofed and impersonation calls continue to frustrate businesses and consumers     

Quantifying the amount of spoofed and impersonation calls is difficult, so Hiya surveyed more than 12,000 consumers and 1,800 businesses to find out more. Most consumers, 62%, said they knew they received an impersonation call in the last 12 months and 16% said they weren’t sure. Meanwhile, many businesses, 38-40%, said they don’t know if their telephone numbers are being hijacked to run scams or if their business name is being used by impersonators. Just 30-32% of businesses are aware that spoofed and impersonation calls are happening. 

According to surveyed consumers in the US, the top five impersonated industries are, in order, government, financial services, auto services, health insurance, and healthcare. The negative impacts of spoofed and impersonation calls are real: 32% of consumers said they are suspicious of any subsequent calls coming from the impersonated business; 20% said that it has eroded trust in that business’ security practices, and 12% said they have since switched brands and will not do business with the impersonated business.

The negative impacts of spam and fraud calls 

Consumers increasingly screen unidentified calls to protect themselves. Just 21% of unidentified calls are answered, while 68% of identified calls are answered. Consumers seem to be losing trust in the voice network. Of consumers surveyed, 94% said they think unidentified calls are always or sometimes fraudulent. In the U.S., the number of spam calls the average person receives each month has increased from 16 in 2020 to 18 in 2022. 

Consumers are losing real money to these phone scams. More than one-quarter of Americans surveyed said they lost money to a phone scam in the past 12 months, with an average loss of $567.41.

Learn more

To see additional insights about consumer and business sentiment related to voice calls, download Hiya’s State of the Call Report or watch the State of the Call webinar.  

Learn about Hiya Protect, Hiya’s voice performance platform for carriers, OEMs, and network providers.

Author Hiya Team