Phone scams rise to record levels – here’s what you can do to protect yourself

In Your Corner

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – This last year was unprecedented in many ways, and proved to be a boon for fraudsters.

Experts estimate phone scams lead to record losses for Americans.

Despite decades of warnings, phony phone calls and texts are proving to be more successful than ever.

Clayton LiaBraaten works for Truecaller, providing caller ID, spam detection, and blocking services.

“I think what we are seeing is a level of sophistication that we didn’t have before,” he explained.

Truecaller has teamed up with the Harris Poll now for around seven years, tracking spam and scam calls.

The numbers show this last year was like no other.

“The bad actors said wait a minute, this is a golden opportunity, public health scare. Let’s social engineer some scams,” said Clayton. “Under the pandemic, these numbers are pretty alarming really.”

Truecaller and Harris estimate nearly 60-million Americans fell victim over the past year.

That number has continuously climbed since 2017. But the most alarming stat is the amount lost, inching closer to $30-million.

Truecaller estimates victims lost on average $502 per successful scam.

Many victims have shared their stories with In Your Corner this last year, with ruses ranging from fake Publisher’s Clearing House calls, to the ‘grandparent scam’.

But federal help is here. Most major cell phone providers have already opted into the FCC’s new anti-spoofing program.

It’s called “Stir/Shaken”, and it helps American’s determine whether phone calls from local area codes, are actually local.

“It’ll knock down neighbor spoofing,” said Clayton.

But the new program is certainly not an end all, and these polls prove scammers are upping their game.

As a result, Oklahoma’s most vulnerable are paying the price.

“Those are the people least available to afford it,” said Clayton. “The people who get victimized by it are people who really can’t spare $500.”

Clayton says proactive measures against such scams include:

  • Signing up on the ‘Do Not Call Registry’
  • Treat your phone number like your bank account, and limit what services you share it with
  • Consider using phone apps, like Truecaller or others, with technology made to monitor spam calls

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