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A few weeks ago my colleague Stephen Cobb (knowing my interest in research related to fraud and scams, including phone scams) drew my attention to a section in the *Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book for January-December 2014 that pointed to a rise in the percentage of fraud complaints about phone scam calls over the period 2012 to 2014. Interestingly, complaints about scams initiated via a€?Internet – Web Sites\Othersa€™ rose from 12% to 15% in 2013 and dropped again to 11% in 2014. A continuing rise in awareness that email is an unsafe channel of communication with a high percentage of maliciously intended traffic.
A reflection of the gradual long-term shift from direct malicious content in email to content linked and redirected from a variety of sources (email and other messaging services, social media, DNS hijacking, legitimate but compromised sites, and so on).
The spike and subsequent drop in web-related fraud reports is harder to explain, so I wona€™t even try. Pindrop observes that a€?phone fraud rates are essentially the same in all major economically developed countries, especially the U.S. However, ita€™s worth noting that there isna€™t necessarily an exact correlation between types of scam reported in the US and here in the UK.
The Consumer Sentinel data are drawn directly from a database of complaints made to the FTC, various law enforcement agencies, other governmental and non-governmental departments, the Council of Better Business Bureaus (on behalf of all North American BBBs), and so on. The Pindrop data are collected by a proprietary a€?online complaint collection toola€™ for the aggregation of data regarding a€?suspiciousa€™ phone numbers as reported in a€?hundreds of complaint sites, online communities, and Web forumsa€™.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive. That's because at least 70 percent of all cellphone text spam is designed to defraud you in some way, according to a study by Cloudmark, a company that makes anti-spam software. What's more, cellphone users are three times more likely than computer users to respond to spam.
Remember to go to the AARP home page every day for tips on keeping healthy and sharp, and great deals. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps people 50 and older improve the quality of their lives. I am very happy, how are you doing today i hope you are having a good day well i would like to have a conversation with you and get to know more about you If you dont mind Well, you can email or skype me. The data concerning a€?Fraud Complaints by Companya€™s Method of Contacting Consumersa€™ indicate that the percentage of phone scam complaints rose from 34% in 2012 to 54% in 2014, whereas the percentage of complaints about scam emails dropped from 37% in 2012 to 23% in 2014.

Maybe three years isna€™t long enough to draw too many conclusions, and in any case the percentage of people who actually report the initial method of contact has dropped over the same period from 55% to 46%. The focus of the report is actually far wider than the direct attacks on individual consumers that the Consumer Sentinel Network data are drawn from, stating that a€?Across financial and retail institutions, 1 in every 2,200 calls is fraud, an increase of more than 30 percent since 2013a€™ and considering attacks on banks, brokerages, card issuers and retailers. Pindrop reckons that the top 25 consumer-oriented scams between them account for more than 36 million scams per month in the US, out of a total of 86.2 million. For instance, various types of UK-targeted Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) scam like these and these may share some characteristics with scams seen in the US, but dona€™t a€“ as far as I know a€“ have a precise equivalent.
As the Consumer Sentinel report states: a€?The 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book is based on unverified complaints reported by consumers. While therea€™s a great deal of interesting and useful information to be gathered this way, similar caveats apply as in the case of the Consumer Sentinel Network report. If you don't have a text message plan, you'll pay around 20 cents for each one you receive. Or the messages may urge you to dial a phone number where your personal and financial information is solicited. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a live, active contact for more cellphone spam, says Landesman. The trade-off may be reduced battery life, so check with your service provider or phone manufacturer for recommendations. If you suspect an upgrade notification is phony, check with your cellphone or software provider.
Know, too, that banks and other legitimate businesses don't send customers unsolicited texts. In fact, there isna€™t such a clear line between consumer attacks and attackers on these organizations, since stolen credit cards and credit card numbers are very common accessories to an attack on a provider. Frequent readers of this blog will probably not be surprised to hear that eight million of these calls are estimated to be tech support scams, while payday loans are close behind at nearly seven million. Similarly, some UK student loan scams may be significantly different to those commonly reported in the US.
The data is not based on a consumer survey.a€™ This doesna€™t make the report less interesting or useful, but it does mean that the information is reliant on the individual complainanta€™s good intentions and ability to interpret correctly what actually happened in the course of a telephone exchange and after.

There is the additional complication that online forums are known to be vulnerable to infestation by groups paid to promote services and causes or to denigrate rivals. Whatever you provide is either used to steal your identity or sold to third parties who'll send you yet more spam texts.
The thieves use inexpensive, hard-to-track prepaid phones to transmit myriad text come-ons. Tracing the real source of a phone scam call is something most potential victims are not resourced for, however. However a€“ to take an example cited by Pindrop a€“ chargeback fraud takes place when a scammer places an order with a stolen credit card.
Among the other top-listed scams are IRS scams, auto insurance scams, home security system scams, and student loan scams. And though I still get the occasional tech support scam call here in the UK, the volume of such calls seems to have declined dramatically in recent years. If the data were drawn from a survey the survey team would have attempted to select a range of respondents as representative as possible of the total population at risk and weight and verify the data accordingly. When word spreads of the spam du jour, the scammers simply toss the phones they're using and buy new ones. And even tech support scams, part-based on trying to get remote access to the victimsa€™ PC, dona€™t always offer easy attribution to the scammera€™s point of origin. While the card owner should normally receive a refund from the card issuer if the loss of the card has been reported and the fraudulent charge disputed, the retailer or e-retailer may already have despatched goods for which it will receive no payment. While IRS scam calls are well behind tech support scams at around a million a month, that figure does represent a significant increase in highly profitable scam calls over the last two years, including a particularly effective scam where the callers impersonate IRS agents over the phone and threaten arrest for tax evasion if payment isna€™t made immediately.

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