Calllocato’s Phone-Scam Survey Names Grandparent Scam as Most Frequent in the U.S.

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Calllocato's phone scam survey reveals that the grandparent scam is the most frequently occurring scam in the U.S.

A recent survey conducted by Calllocato a reverse-phone-number-lookup company, reveals that the most frequently occurring phone scam in the U.S. this year, is the ‘relative in distress’ scam. Senior citizens are targeted most often, and hence this scam has also come to be known as the ‘grandparent scam’. The next most notorious scam as indicated by the survey is the ‘phishing scam’, where an imposter, supposedly calling on behalf of a reputed company/government-agency, tries eliciting personal information from unsuspecting victims. This particular scam has been directed at people, both young and old, and eventually leads to ID thefts.

Sweepstakes scams take the third place in the survey. These scams involve callers asking for a small sum of money for sending over a hefty prize to a winner - the victim - for a sweepstakes/lottery entry. Impersonation scams come a close fourth in the survey. In such scams, the caller claims to represent a service provider (mostly the electricity board. Sometimes the water board, or even the phone provider), telling the victim that he’s due for a payment, failing which the service would be cut-off. Debt collection and outstanding loan payment scams follow in line, as the next most common scam. The caller mostly assumes the guise of a police officer or debt collection officer who threatens to arrest the victim, if he didn’t pay the outstanding amount.

A total of 100 scams that occurred in the year 2012, were taken into consideration in this survey. Among the scams that were considered, the state of California had the most number of phone scam occurrences reported. The state of Wisconsin came next, in the list.

Microsoft was the most quoted company in phishing/ID-theft scams, where the caller tells the victim that he’s a Microsoft representative and that there’s a problem with the victim’s computer. The caller then gets the victim to enable remote access on his computer, on the pretext of fixing the problem. Power supply companies such as Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), Indiana Michigan Power, Southern Pioneer Electric Company, MidAmerican Energy Company and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power were among others that were quoted in outstanding-bill-payment scams.

Seasonal scams were found to dominate the period before a particular season/event. Tax related phone scams were on a peak in the month of April, when the income tax returns were filed. Election related telephone scams are on the rise at present, on account of the ensuing (November) Presidential elections. In these scams, people are being dissuaded from going to poll booths on election day to avoid standing in long lines to cast their vote. They are instead being asked to vote through their phones.

New Scams of 2012 as per the Survey
A new kind of scam that was reported from Eagle County, Colorado, is supposedly making rounds across the country. The caller who claimed to be a 9-1-1 dispatcher, called the victim in the middle of the night to check if all was well, citing that numerous calls were received by 9-1-1 from that particular phone number. Once the victim confirmed that everything was fine, the caller proceeded to ask questions such as “How many people reside in the house”, “Are you alone”, “Is there a security system in place”, “Who services the security system” and so on. No other personal information such as bank details or Social Security Number, was asked. This is reportedly indicative of the caller’s intention to burgle the house.

The survey mentions about scams using the name of President Obama. Some scams tell the victims that the government will be paying their bills, or that the President has approved a special funding for them. The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010 to combat healthcare frauds, is being used for phishing and ID theft scams too. Incidents had been reported from Phoenix where a caller who claimed to be a government official, asked for personal information from locals.

Another new scam that was reported occurred in Durham, North Carolina. In this scam the caller told the victim - an employee of a particular firm - that the manager of the firm had been arrested and that the employee had been given permission to access and transfer money from the company’s funds for releasing the manager.

Other scams that occurred but were not very prevalent are:-

  • the benevolence scams - soliciting money in the name of charity,
  • jury duty scams asking for penalty for failing to appear for jury duty,
  • kidnap threats asking for ransom over phone,
  • lowering interest-rate scams and
  • mortgage settlement scams.

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Joe Jerald
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