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Study Shows Phone Scammers Weaponize Your Stolen Data This Holiday Season

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Over 15 Percent of U.S. Consumers Received Personalized Scam Calls by Someone Impersonating a Business or Charity

First Orion, a leading provider of communication transparency solutions, announced the results of a consumer survey* that shows scammers are using new strategies to take advantage of consumers this holiday season. First Orion found that the most notable trend is “Enterprise Spoofing,” which is when scammers utilize stolen data, obtained from the countless data breaches, to impersonate trusted businesses or charities.

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Over 15 percent of those surveyed received a personalized scam call. Of those who experienced financial loss, 75 percent said the criminal knew some personal information about them prior to the call. Even though many people may not answer unknown numbers, it only takes one personalized scam call for consumers to be extorted.

In the inaugural 2018 Scam Call Trends and Projections Report, First Orion predicted that nearly half of all calls to mobile phones will be fraudulent in 2019. This year the prediction rang true. More than half (52 percent) of consumers said they receive more spam calls than legitimate calls every day. Scammers spoof the organization’s Caller ID and trick consumers into thinking the call is legitimate. Scam calls are often unpleasant interactions and end up damaging the impersonated company’s reputation.

Scammers who claim to work for charities are also effectively targeting consumers. In fact, of those who received a call from someone masquerading as charity, nearly 24 percent experienced financial loss. Of those surveyed, 30 percent reportedly received a scam call from someone claiming to be from the American Red Cross. Others impersonated by scammers include UNICEF (19 percent) and The Salvation Army (17 percent). Nearly 22 percent reported scam callers posing as local first responders. To safely support these organizations, the FCC recommends visiting the charity’s website to donate directly.

Here are some direct links:

  • American Red Cross
  • UNICEF
  • The Salvation Army
  • Visit your local police or firefighters department to donate directly

“The onslaught of data breaches armed scammers with enough stolen information to fabricate intricate and personalized scam calls,” said Scott Hambuchen, chief information officer at First Orion. “With stolen personal data leaked in mass, consumers are being targeted by much more sophisticated and effective personalized scam calls. Here at First Orion, our mission is to provide mobile transparency technology that will not only protect you from scammers but also let you know who is calling and why.”

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Other interesting facts include:

  • 45 percent do not know if their current mobile carrier blocks/identifies scam calls
  • Nearly 60 percent tried different solutions to stop unwanted calls
  • An overwhelming 82 percent do not currently use a call-blocking app
  • Approximately 83 percent would be more inclined to use a mobile phone carrier that automatically identified and stopped telemarketing and scam calls
  • Over half (56 percent) would change from their current mobile carrier to one that offers features to identify or block incoming scam calls
  • Over 63 percent would be willing to pay a monthly fee to identify callers and block fraudulent calls, up from 46 percent from 2015
  • 91 percent said unsolicited calls are annoying

In addition to providing call protection solutions to major carriers and consumers, First Orion offers its Engage calling solution which ensures mobile customers know which business calls are safe to answer and why. First Orion delivers millions of verified and branded calls for businesses looking to provide better service to their customers.

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