AI is Driving More Phone Scams: 14 Spam Calls per Month

Disturbing Trend of Unwanted Phone Calls

According to Hiya, a provider of voice security solutions, the average mobile phone user now receives 14 spam calls a month, highlighting a distressing trend. Their latest research revealed that a quarter of the unknown phone calls analyzed by Hiya were classified as unwanted.

The Role of AI in Phone Scams

Hiya believes that many of these scams involve the application of AI technology, directed by scammers to deceive unsuspecting victims. They have been actively monitoring and reporting on phone fraud and spam for several years and their latest study includes a comprehensive list of the most prevalent phone scams witnessed in 2023.

Prevalent Phone Scams in 2023

  • “Amazon scam”: Impersonators posing as representatives from Amazon contact victims, alleging unauthorized purchases or requesting credit card updates.
  • “They often initiate contact through robocalls and, if the victim falls for the scam, a live operator will attempt to extract sensitive information such as Amazon login credentials or credit card details.” – Hiya

  • “Insurance scam”: Fraudsters target victims with a range of insurance-related scams, including bogus insurance policies and false claims of outstanding bills.
  • “Scammers aim to obtain personal information, such as social security or credit card numbers, during the call.” – Hiya

  • “Medicare scam”: Scammers attempt to acquire individuals’ Medicare numbers to fraudulently bill the government for medical services. Recent variations of this scam involve offering victims free home COVID tests, supposedly covered by Medicare.
  • “These scams are prevalent in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and other countries.” – Hiya

  • “Credit card scam”: Scammers deceive victims into disclosing their credit card numbers and security codes through various tactics.
  • “They may claim a package delivery requires payment, renew subscriptions, or pose as representatives from credit card fraud departments investigating unauthorized transactions.” – Hiya

  • “Cryptocurrency scam”: Scammers exploit people’s desire for quick profits in the cryptocurrency market, targeting victims through phone calls, emails, or text messages. In 2022, cryptocurrency scams resulted in losses of $1.4 billion in the United States alone.
  • “These scams are not limited to any specific geographic region, as Hiya users worldwide report receiving such calls.” – Hiya

  • “Loved ones scam”: Fraudsters pose as distressed relatives, urging recipients to wire money to assist them in times of purported trouble. These scams are prevalent in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and other countries.
  • “Payment apps scam”: Scammers focus on popular peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, and CashApp, exploiting the absence of consumer protections comparable to credit cards.
  • “Fraudsters target these apps to steal money, akin to stealing cash.” – Hiya

Comparison of Phone Fraud and Spam Rates

The study also compared the rates of phone fraud and spam in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The U.K. had the highest spam call rate at 28%, followed by the U.S. at 27% and Canada at 20%. The U.K. has consistently held the highest rate of fraud calls in Europe in recent years.

Text Message Fraud and Spam

The report incorporated data from KONTXT, a division of RealNetworks, which analyzed billions of text messages in the United States in August 2023. It revealed that 77% of messaging fraud attempts were conducted via SMS, while 23% were sent via MMS. Cybercriminals utilize MMS to conceal messages within images and adopt creative strategies to evade conventional spam detection methods. The increasing adoption of MMS for legitimate business communications further compounds the challenge of distinguishing spam and fraud from genuine use cases.

Data Analysis and Spam Ratios

The study drew upon an analysis of 98 billion phone calls worldwide between January 1, 2023, and June 30, 2023, using data collected from the Hiya Voice Security Network. The reported spam rate represents calls flagged as either “potential fraud” or “suspected spam” by Hiya. Spam ratios indicate the number of unwanted calls from non-contacts, originating from numbers not stored in an individual’s local address book.

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