Americans are on track to receive a record-breaking 150 billion robotexts in 2022, according to Robokiller’s Mid-Year Report. Well, 2023 is about to shatter 2022 by 100+%, as Americans are expected to have over 180 billion robotexts and 80 billion robocalls and spam in 2023. These figures will mark record-setting increases of 100+% and 10%, respectively. Not only are these spam messages annoying, but they also result in significant losses for the victims.
According to the FTC, the average money lost to a phone scam is $1,000 per text and $1,500 per phone call scam, and according to Robokiller’s projections, scammers could steal upwards of $75 billion through phone scams in 2022, $15 billion through robotext scams and $66 billion through phone call scams. For some Americans, falling victim to a phone scam can be extremely hard to recover from financially.
What scams should Americans be wary of?
Scammers are known to follow trends to reach Americans easily and steal their money. For instance, in August 2022, student loan scams increased by 52% right after the Biden administration announced plans to forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt from borrowers. Scammers wasted no time jumping on this trend to try and find a way to scam Americans with student loan debt.
Other scams like impersonating the IRS, Social Security Administration, your bank, or delivery parcel services are another way scammers attempt to reach you. Scammers often target vulnerable groups, such as people with debt or the elderly.
Some of their tactics, like the ones outlined above, are often used to lure victims alongside a scare tactic or alongside an offer of something that seems too good to be true. For example, at the end of the year, when Americans are feeling generous, some scammers may even pose as representatives from charitable organizations to steal money from your account.
One thing is for sure, scammers are relentless and will stop at nothing to try and scam you. Staying vigilant and being aware that scammers are clever can help you from falling victim to these scams. Remember: if the offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
What’s being done to curb the problem?
In 2021, all carriers had to implement STIR/SHAKEN, a set of protocols that aims to stop robocalls that use caller ID spoofing technology. Robokiller did observe a 5% decrease in spoofed spam calls in July 2021, but since then, spoofed spam calls have stayed stagnant. Though it may seem that STIR/SHAKEN is off to a very slow start, there’s hope that it will be helpful and decrease spoofed spam calls for good, but it’s unlikely it will do so all on its own.
More recently, in the last half of 2022, the FCC cracked down on certain robocalls and carriers. In November, the FCC announced its first shutdown of an international carrier for not complying with STIR/SHAKEN. The decision comes after the FCC announced that carriers must stop letting car warranty robocalls through their network. Since the ruling, Robokiller identified a significant decrease in the number of calls Americans received related to car warranties. What was once the number one robocall hitting American phones is now nonexistent.
And just four months later, the FCC announced it was asking carriers to block student loan scams from their network, which is no surprise as this category spiked after the Biden administration announced plans to forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt. Since the FCC’s ruling, Robokiller has already observed a decrease in this type of scam, dropping nearly 88% since the announcement.
Regulations are in place, but is it enough?
The changes that took place in the last few months of 2022 are an exciting step in the fight against robocalls and will impact the number of robocalls Americans receive. But as government regulations tighten against robocalls, scammers are refining their tactics to focus solely on robotexts—and the results could be catastrophic.
In 2023, Americans could suffer significant losses. We saw this happen in 2021, when Americans received 55% more spam texts than in 2020, resulting in $10 billion in losses. The significant shift to robotexts is worse than in years past, and it’s costing vulnerable Americans millions in the process. The recent calls to action from state attorney generals calling attention to the robotexts problem and the FCC plans to combat robotexts are exciting next steps in the fight against all phone scams. However, those plans will likely take time to put in place, and Americans need action now.
What can consumers do to protect themselves?
With the uptick in robotexts, it’s important that Americans know what to look out for in those messages. The good news? There are ways to protect yourself from scammers.
Registering with the Do Not Call list is a good first step to stopping some unwanted calls. It is a helpful tool that will protect you from receiving telemarketing calls, specifically. Though if you receive unwanted calls that claim to be a telemarketer, you should approach those calls with caution.
Another way to protect yourself is to spot red flags. Some of these signs may include the caller having a sense of urgency, asking for your personal information, or offering you something that seems too good to be true. If you need clarification on whether a call or text message is spam, you should contact the company or person directly and ask if they contacted you.
Next, you can utilize your phone’s call-blocking solution to block these calls from reaching you. To do this, you can follow these steps to activate your phone-blocking solution:
- Go to settings, phone, and then tap Silence Unknown Callers
- You can also select Call Blocking & Identification to silence callers identified by your phone carrier as spam or fraud.
There are a few other options for Android:
- Block specific numbers as they come in by going to the call record in your phone app, tapping the number you wish to block, and then selecting “block/report spam.”
- You can also block ALL unknown calls on your Android by navigating to your phone settings, tapping “block numbers,” and enabling the “unknown” toggle to block unknown calls.
You can also follow the below steps to protect yourself:
- Don’t answer phone calls or texts from unknown numbers, especially those that call or text at odd hours.
- Don’t follow prompts like “Press 1” or click any links.
- Never provide personal information like banking details or other sensitive information.
- Download a spam text and call blocker to equip your phone with the latest technology to stop scams.
Spam calls and spam texts won’t go away any time soon, but these tips can help prevent these scammers from reaching you and reduce the number of spam calls and texts you receive, while protecting you from millions in losses to fraud at the same time.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Moose Photos; Pexels; Thank you!