More Than 50% of Americans Believe They’ve Been Targeted by Covid-Related Fraud

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Next Caller Report Finds 59% Haven’t Taken Any Precautions to Prevent Against Being Victimized

Rising reports of fraud signal that some schemes may just be getting started. The phony mailing address added to a bank account in April is likely just the trojan horse for a scheme ready to be set in motion under the cover of the next stimulus package.

As the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis continues to unfold, new research from call verification and fraud detection company, Next Caller, reveals the pervasive impact that COVID-related fraud has had on Americans, as well as emerging trends that threaten the security of contact centers, as we head towards what may be another wave of call activity.

The company’s latest Fraud & COVID-19 Report (covering May 11 to August 31) -- comprised of a survey commissioned in September to over 1,000 Americans and internal data from Next Caller clients -- found that 55% of Americans believe they’ve been a victim of COVID-related fraud, up more than 20% from when the company conducted a similar study in April. Perhaps even more worrisome is the fact that 59% of Americans claim they haven’t taken any additional precautions to protect themselves from these attacks.

“Even with massive amounts of PII circulating the dark web and so many new opportunities for criminals to exploit because of the pandemic, it’s still alarming that over half of the country thinks they’ve been targeted by COVID-related fraud,” said Next Caller CEO Ian Roncoroni. “Compounding the problem is COVID’s unique ability to distract and disengage people from carefully monitoring their accounts. Criminals who are already well-equipped to bypass security can now operate longer without detection, worsening the impact exponentially.”

Past Next Caller data has shown the clear correlation between the economic fallout of the crisis -- specifically stimulus related events -- and the meteoric spikes in overall call volumes and the number of high-risk calls taking place inside contact centers across today’s biggest brands. A pending second stimulus package, combined with a clear urgency from Americans around receiving it, indicates that another wave of activity from customers and criminals is on the horizon.

In regards to the latest findings, Roncoroni said, “We have to prepare for a more sophisticated criminal strategy this time around. Rising reports of fraud activity signal not only that fraudsters are eager to replicate their initial success, but that some of those early schemes may just be getting started. The phony mailing address unceremoniously added to a bank account in April is likely just the trojan horse for a scheme ready to be set in motion under the cover of the next stimulus package.”

Findings from the report include:

  • 55% of Americans believe they’ve been targeted by COVID related fraud
  • Despite that, 59% of Americans claiming that they have not taken any additional precautions to protect themselves from attacks
  • Almost 1-in-3 Americans are more worried about becoming a victim of fraud than they are about contracting the virus
  • 56% believe brands are equally responsible for providing flexible and accommodating customer service and protecting personal information
  • When asked about their view of the next stimulus checks, 41% of Americans said “I really need another check”
  • 53% of Americans say that they have already sought out information related to the next round of checks

The full report can be viewed, here.

Data from Next Caller clients, including some of today’s biggest financial service, telecom and insurance companies, show a current lull in call volume. This may be due in part to consumers acclimating to the new normal, or it could be a result of the absence of any new information regarding government relief packages. Regardless, the current regression in call volume is not likely to last as the economic fallout continues to unfold and more help may be on the way.

About Next Caller
Next Caller is the market’s smartest enterprise-grade call verification and fraud detection technology for contact centers. Next Caller's primary service, VeriCall®, allows businesses to instantly and passively “green light” real customers while flagging suspicious activity (like call spoofing) to stop phone fraud before it starts. With Next Caller, businesses save time, money, and avoid treating customers like criminals—all without compromising security. Next Caller was founded in 2012 with headquarters in New York City. For more information visit http://www.nextcaller.com.

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