Scam calls drastically increasing, report shows

Bronek Kaminski—Getty Images

On the Central Coast, lawmakers say they're also seeing an increase in scam calls. First Orion EVP Scott Hambuchen testified before Congress in April in a hearing on robocalls, where he said scam calls have grown into a "big problem".

According to a Washington Post report, there has been a leap from 3.7 per cent of total calls in 2017 to more than 29 per cent this year, to a projected 45 per cent by early 2019.

Callers have also been receiving calls from scammers claiming to be the Internal Revenue Service.

The scammers are always trying to stay one step ahead, of course: phone number spoofing makes it appear that a number similar to your own is calling you, increasing the likelihood that you'll pick up. The IRS says that victims are falsely told they owe money to the government and are urged to pay up through a gift card or wire transfer.

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Across several United States metropolitan areas with large Chinese populations, scam callers have posed as representatives of the Chinese embassy while trying to trick Chinese immigrants and students into revealing their credit card numbers.

Scammers may also take advantage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence, the IRS warned.

According to First Orion, third-party call blocking apps tend to be ineffective as they can only black-list known numbers that belong to scams. "After working closely with several carriers, we've found that in-network solutions that leverage sophisticated data analysis and machine learning are by far the most accurate way to pinpoint the origin of a call and identify it before it reaches your phone".

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reported that 60 per cent of the 200,000 complaints they received came from unwanted calls. The company predicts that nearly half of all calls to mobile phones will be fraudulent in 2019 unless the industry adopts and implements more effective call protection solutions.

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