Robocalls have recently tricked people with fake COVID-19 tests and auto warranties, but the ruse constantly changes. It is so prevalent in the U.S. that 94% of people assume a call from an unknown number is spam. Read on for a recent study about fraud and spam calls in the country and what you can do about it.

Here’s the backstory

It’s nearly impossible to find a random person who hasn’t inadvertently picked up a spam call. While 79% of unknown calls go unanswered, people have a good reason not to trust them. In the latest State of the Call report from Hiya, $567 is the average amount lost by people to fraud and spam calls. And don’t think that only some people are targeted. The report details that the average mobile phone user will receive about 18 spam calls per month, while the total amount of spam or fraud calls in the U.S. has topped 80 billion per year. That is by far the most worldwide. France only tracks around 12 billion total spam calls each year, and the U.K. sees approximately 6.6 billion annually. The primary goal of scam callers is to trick victims into handing over personal information and rip them off. The top five subjects that these calls regularly relate to are:

Auto WarrantySocial Security numberCredit CardIRSStudent Loan

Scammers often take advantage of important events as the topic for calls, like student loans. Federal student loan repayments are set to resume in May, so you’ll experience more fraudulent calls offering assistance.  Some mobile phone carriers are trying to eliminate spam and robocalls as much as possible. Together with the FTC, new technology was announced last year to make caller ID much easier to identify. But even so, only 47% of the study said that their mobile carrier was doing enough to protect them from spam calls.

What you can do about it

Not all calls that you get from an unknown number will be spam or fraud. But there are a few things that you can do to minimize your chances of being caught up in a scam.

Where possible, install a caller identification app on your phone. These apps have vast databases of spam numbers and will let you know if the call is safe to answer or not. Tap or click for ways to find out who’s calling you from an unknown or blocked number.Never give out personal information over the phone when receiving unsolicited calls. Especially to someone you don’t know.When you receive a robocall, the best thing is to hang up immediately. Don’t press buttons on your phone, even if the call gives you the option to stop or be removed from its contact list.If you receive a spam call, hang up and block the number on your device. This will ensure the caller can’t reach you again.

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