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If You Get a Call about Your Car Warranty, It’s One of Billions | #phishing | #scams | #hacking | #aihp

  • It’s amazing to contemplate, but scammers are responsible for making at least a billion phone calls per month—and maybe far more. One study says it is more like 100 billion so far this year. That’s billion with a B.
  • The most common scam type attempted to get people to purchase fake vehicle warranties. Health care and Social Security were the second- and third-most common topics.
  • After the FCC sent cease-and-desist letters last month, the number of vehicle warranty scam calls dropped by 60 percent. But don’t expect this relief to last.

    Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) told phone companies in the U.S. to knock it off with the auto warranty scam calls. In a related action, the state of Ohio has filed suit against a small group of people, as first reported by Fortune, claiming they are the force behind a massive operation making robocalls about vehicle warranties.

    Despite this kind of government action, scammers aren’t going to quietly stop now, as a new report covering the most common types of scam calls and emerging scam trends showed.

    The National Consumer Law Center says “more than a billion” scam calls go out every month to U.S. consumers and that there were more than 50 billion in 2021. But a company called First Orion, which provides scam protection solutions, thinks the number could be far higher. First Orion recently issued its “2022 Mid-Year Phone Scam Report,” which estimates that U.S. consumers were on the receiving end of 101 billion scam calls during just the first half of 2022. First Orion projects that this resulted in over 80 million successful scam attempts and cumulative financial losses of up to $40 billion.

    According to a customer survey done together with the report, First Orion found that 53 percent of people said they received more scam calls in 2022 than they did in 2021. Young people were hit hardest, First Orion said, with two-thirds of 18-to-34-year-olds surveyed reporting some sort of financial loss because of a scam call.

    The most popular type of scam call was about vehicle warranties, followed by health-care and Social Security issues. According to Kent Welch, chief data officer at First Orion, this lines up with historical trends.

    “Vehicle warranty scams traditionally rank at the top, especially in 2022,” Welch told Car and Driver. “However, in July, the FCC sent cease-and-desist letters to eight voice service providers to warn them to stop carrying this suspicious traffic. In July, vehicle warranty scam calls dropped by 60 percent compared to June.”

    Don’t Tell Them Anything

    That welcome decrease isn’t likely to last long. Warranty calls can be effective for bad actors and, since around 66 percent of Americans purchase legitimate warranties, it would not be surprising for the drop only to be temporary, Welch said.

    Scammers have made investments in learning more about you in order to trick you. Just because the person on the other end of the call knows some accurate information about you—like the year, make, and model of the car you’re driving—doesn’t mean they got those details for legitimate purposes.

    “Bad actors will use whatever information they can get in advance to make their interaction with the victim seem as legitimate as possible,” Welch said. “Accessing public records is definitely one avenue for that information. However, scammers can also purchase people’s information through a third party.”

    Even if the scammers don’t get your money this time around, they might be just as happy to build up your profile for a future call.

    “It’s safe to assume that bad actors want to pull whatever information out of their victims that will result in a financial loss for the victim,” Welch said. “If they can’t manage to make that happen, they will use whatever information they can get from you to attempt to scam you in the future.”

    First Orion also calculated a list of the top-10 cities for scam calls and found they were clustered in Texas, Oklahoma, and Ohio. Welch said it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the high scam call volume in these areas and that bad actors are likely using different tactics in different states.

    “However, with health care and health insurance ranking near the top of all scam types nationwide, it’s a possibility that scammers target Texas with those scams due to the state’s high rate of uninsured adults,” he said.

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