Alerts Consumers to Rampant Phone Frauds and Scams [Infographic]

Last updated: 20th June 2017

Authors: Chris Brock and Sally Smith.


Please Note: An year's phone calls statistics released by the FTC/FCC, only is made available in the following year's 4th to 6th month, April/June that is. In this Infographic case, the 2017 phone calls information will be made available either at the beginning or at the end of April to June 2018., a community driven phone book that enables consumers to search numbers and post information about unwanted callers, has released an intuitive, accessible infographic that shines a spotlight on the rampant phone fraud that impacts fully 10 percent of American adults.

As the infographic notes, Americans lost $7.4 billion to phone scams in 2015 - an increase of 53 percent over 2014. Common wisdom dictates that older adults are more susceptible to fraud, and indeed those over 55 do receive the lion's share of telemarketing spam. But they're savvy enough not to readily hand over their credit card and bank account numbers.

In contrast, young adults between 18 and 34 typically fall victim to phone scams. Even more surprising is that young men are scammed at the twice the rate of young women.

What line do they fall for? The infographic reports that in 2015, the clear frontrunner - constituting 24 percent of reported phone fraud - was a scam perpetrated by callers saying they were from the Internal Revenue Service. Using caller ID spoofing, where the originating phone number is masked by one that appears legitimate, fraudsters convinced victims that they would be arrested if they didn't immediately send a money transfer or prepaid debit card to settle up for "unpaid" taxes.

The infographic notes that, in the race to the bottom, debt collection scams ranked second, at 8.3 percent. Rounding out the top ten were fake sweepstakes (8 percent), hackers posing as Microsoft technicians (6 percent), bogus government grants (5.7 percent), phony loan application fees (3.8 percent), credit card verification tricksters (3 percent), work-from-home schemes (2.6 percent), repayment of bogus checks and money orders (2.4 percent), and fake lottery winnings (2.4 percent).

Given that an increasing number of consumers use cell phones as their primary phones, it's not surprising that nearly 75 percent of fraud victims were contacted on their mobile devices. And, in an era when spam text messages pour in unchecked, it makes sense that one in four victims were solicited via text. But what makes consumers answer the calls and respond to the texts? Two factors: the law of averages and insight into human behavior.

If scammers call enough phone numbers, they're bound to find vulnerable targets. Internet-powered automated telephone dialing systems have the capacity to make an astounding 2,000 scam calls every second. And, thanks to sophisticated computer programming, robocalls can mimic the voices, natural pauses, and responses heard in human conversation. Moreover, swindlers know that people are less likely to answer calls from toll-free numbers, so unwanted calls and texts often appear as though they're coming from the area codes of large U.S. cities, such as Detroit (313), Houston (713), Ft. Lauderdale (954), Atlanta (404), Dallas (214), Washington, D.C. (202), Birmingham (205), New York City (347), Seattle (206), San Francisco (415), and Los Angeles (323). It's no wonder potential victims are tricked into thinking that they're answering a legitimate call and speaking to an actual human being.

The infographic introduces three ways that consumers can protect themselves from callers attempting to commit financial fraud or identity theft. First, cautions consumers to use discretion in posting their phone numbers. Second, they suggest using a fake phone number when signing up for memberships. Finally, they urge consumers to download a caller ID app in order to screen incoming calls.

Despite the prevalence of phone scams, the infographic notes that only 31 percent of people go online to research suspicious phone numbers before returning a call. is a community resource for consumers to conduct number lookups and to share information about calls from potential fraudsters and other unwanted callers.


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