Calllocato’s recent survey on phone scams in the U.S. for the year 2012, reveal that the most frequently occurring phone scams are (descending order):-
Relative in distress or grandparent scam.
Phishing phone scams that result in ID thefts.
Sweepstakes and lottery phone scams.
Impersonation scams soliciting money.
Debt/outstanding-loan payment phone scams.
The relative in distress or grandparent scam, as it is commonly known targets senior citizens. Callers posing as police officials tell the victim that his/her grandchild has been in an accident and is hospitalized or has been involved in a drug scandal and has been arrested. The caller will then move on to ask for money for helping the grandchild. Out of concern for their grandchild, the grandparents immediately send the money, without even confirming the news.
In Phishing scams, the caller poses to be an official with some well-known, reputed company and tries to get personal information from his victim. Several scams had the caller tell the victim that there is a problem with his computer and gets him to enable remote access. The victim would be told that the steps being followed is to resolve the issue. The name of Microsoft has been used the most for such scams.
Sweepstakes scams or lottery scams as the name suggests, have the caller tell the victim that he has won a hefty amount in a lucky draw, and that a smaller amount must be wired in-order to pay for the paper work and delivery of the prize.
Sometimes callers posing as officials of companies tell the victims that they need to pay for the companies’ service (either the outstanding bill amount or a regular payment), else, the service would be terminated. Such calls usually use the names of power and water supply companies and sometimes even the phone companies. These are impersonation scams and some of the companies that were used include: – SWEPCO, Southern Pioneer Electric Company, Indiana Michigan Power, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and MidAmerican Energy Company.
This survey has taken a total of 100 scams into consideration. The most number of scams were reported from the state of California; next comes Wisconsin.
Seasonal scams occur during a specific season or prior to a specific event. In April, tax related scams were extremely high, as it is the IT returns filing time. At present, since the elections are fast approaching, there are several voting related phone scams . People are being asked by fraudulent callers to vote from their phones directly instead of going to the voting booth. This is being done to prohibit them from casting their votes.
Some new types of scams have been reported this year. In Eagle county a person received a call from someone who said he’s a 9-1-1 dispatcher, and that 9-1-1 had received several calls from that phone number. The dispatcher was apparently checking if everything was fine. The call was received at midnight. The dispatcher asked questions like ‘how many people live in the house’, ‘are you alone’, ‘is there a security system’, ‘who services it’ and so on. Probably the caller had an intention to burgle the house. No other personal information (bank details or SSN) was asked.
Another name that is used in scams is that of President Obama. There are scams which tell people that the President will pay their bills or has approved funding for them. In Phoenix, people have received phone calls from supposed government officials asking for personal data as part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
In Durham, an employee from a firm received a call saying that the manager of the firm had been arrested. The caller who was posing as a police officer said that the employee had been given special permission to access and send money from the company funds for the release of the manager.
Other scams that occurred, but were not as frequent as the ones mentioned above are:- jury duty scams asking the victim to pay for failing to appear for jury duty, scams asking ransom for a possible kidnap of a near and dear one, charity or benevolence scams soliciting money for charity, scams telling that interest rates can be lowered and scams mentioning about mortgage settlements.