Scam robocalls are down but texts are up, study finds | #phishing | #scams


Scam robocalls across the country have decreased by 47% from last year due to a mandate by the Federal Communications Commission. “These calls aren’t just annoying. They aren’t just a source of frustration. Robocalls lead to real and devastating financial harm. Every year, robocalls lead to $10 billion annually in fraud nationwide,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. As of April 2021, the FCC required all wireless network providers to implement a new call screening technology called STIR/SHAKEN or have instituted their own robocall mitigation program. Robocalls ‘spoof’ the number, making it seem like the call is coming from the local area or a trusted organization like PG&E or social security. The new STIR/SHAKEN technology screens calls before they reach the recipient, ensuring the real number matches the caller ID. T-Mobile and Verizon have since partnered with all the major wireless network providers. That has helped decrease the number of robocalls from 2.1 billion calls in 2021 to 1.1 billion in 2022, a new report by the California Public Interest Research Group found. “The number of voice providers that have installed robust robocall blocking technology has nearly quadrupled since last year,” Bonta said. According to CALPIRG, the most common types of scam calls are auto warranty, credit card scams, insurance-related, false criminal charges and phishing. The biggest barrier to further minimizing robocalls is excessive flexibility and lack of enforcement by the FCC, Sander Kushen, a state advocate with CALPIRG, says. “A company could not be using the industry standard anti-robocall technology and they can still get away with that, if they can prove to the FCC that they’re taking their own steps to block robocalls. And so we’ve seen a lot of companies, about 47% of all the companies who did not claim an exemption from this rule saying, that they’re using their own methods to deal with robocalls, which is better than nothing but they’re almost always using inferior technology,” Kushen said. Since the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN, scammers have targeted smaller network providers. “Originally, smaller voice providers had a longer exemption to install the STIR/SHAKEN technology. But all 51 attorney generals signed onto the letter saying to the FCC they need to move that up. So they were supposed to. All companies, no matter the size, were supposed to install that anti-robocall technology by last month. Still a long ways to go there,” Kushen said. While robocalls have decreased, robotexts have skyrocketed across the country from 1 billion texts a month to 12 billion, Kushen says. The FCC does not have any guard rails against scam texts. According to CALPIRG the most common text scams are late delivery notifications impersonating companies like Amazon or FedEx, COVID-19 exposure alerts that prompt someone to order a test kit, bank impersonations and fake Apple sweepstakes. To protect yourself from scam calls and texts CALPIRG offers the following tips: Try not to answer unknown calls and texts; it can flag the receiver for repeat calls. Do not provide your full name in your outbound voicemail. Use a robocall filter Don’t be tricked if a caller knows your personal information. Numerous data breaches, like the Equifax data breach in 2017, exposed many Americans. Never press a button to be removed from a call list. All it does is let the scammer know that it’s a live number. Register for the Do Not Call Registry to stop telemarketing calls. Other types of organizations may still call you, like charities, political groups and debt collectors.

Scam robocalls across the country have decreased by 47% from last year due to a mandate by the Federal Communications Commission.

“These calls aren’t just annoying. They aren’t just a source of frustration. Robocalls lead to real and devastating financial harm. Every year, robocalls lead to $10 billion annually in fraud nationwide,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said.

As of April 2021, the FCC required all wireless network providers to implement a new call screening technology called STIR/SHAKEN or have instituted their own robocall mitigation program.

Robocalls ‘spoof’ the number, making it seem like the call is coming from the local area or a trusted organization like PG&E or social security.

The new STIR/SHAKEN technology screens calls before they reach the recipient, ensuring the real number matches the caller ID.

T-Mobile and Verizon have since partnered with all the major wireless network providers. That has helped decrease the number of robocalls from 2.1 billion calls in 2021 to 1.1 billion in 2022, a new report by the California Public Interest Research Group found.

“The number of voice providers that have installed robust robocall blocking technology has nearly quadrupled since last year,” Bonta said.

According to CALPIRG, the most common types of scam calls are auto warranty, credit card scams, insurance-related, false criminal charges and phishing.

The biggest barrier to further minimizing robocalls is excessive flexibility and lack of enforcement by the FCC, Sander Kushen, a state advocate with CALPIRG, says.

“A company could not be using the industry standard anti-robocall technology and they can still get away with that, if they can prove to the FCC that they’re taking their own steps to block robocalls. And so we’ve seen a lot of companies, about 47% of all the companies who did not claim an exemption from this rule saying, that they’re using their own methods to deal with robocalls, which is better than nothing but they’re almost always using inferior technology,” Kushen said.

Since the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN, scammers have targeted smaller network providers.

“Originally, smaller voice providers had a longer exemption to install the STIR/SHAKEN technology. But all 51 attorney generals signed onto the letter saying to the FCC they need to move that up. So they were supposed to. All companies, no matter the size, were supposed to install that anti-robocall technology by last month. Still a long ways to go there,” Kushen said.

While robocalls have decreased, robotexts have skyrocketed across the country from 1 billion texts a month to 12 billion, Kushen says.

The FCC does not have any guard rails against scam texts.

According to CALPIRG the most common text scams are late delivery notifications impersonating companies like Amazon or FedEx, COVID-19 exposure alerts that prompt someone to order a test kit, bank impersonations and fake Apple sweepstakes.

To protect yourself from scam calls and texts CALPIRG offers the following tips:

  • Try not to answer unknown calls and texts; it can flag the receiver for repeat calls.
  • Do not provide your full name in your outbound voicemail.
  • Use a robocall filter
  • Don’t be tricked if a caller knows your personal information. Numerous data breaches, like the Equifax data breach in 2017, exposed many Americans.
  • Never press a button to be removed from a call list. All it does is let the scammer know that it’s a live number.
  • Register for the Do Not Call Registry to stop telemarketing calls. Other types of organizations may still call you, like charities, political groups and debt collectors.



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