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Americans Fell Victim to Mobile Phone Scams 270% More Often in 2020

First Orion survey found that the most successful scam calls this year were related to the COVID-19 pandemic

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.,—December 17, 2020 First Orion, a leading provider of communication transparency solutions, today announced the results of its “Annual Scam Call Report”, revealing a substantial year-over-year increase in consumers that fell victim to phone scams. The company commissioned a blind survey of 1,000 mobile phone users in the United States, and while consumers said that their scam call volume hasn’t substantially increased in 2020, the effectiveness of these calls has – in a big way. Compared to 2019, scammers were 270% more successful in getting personal information from victims in 2020. More information highlighting the “Annual Scam Call Report” survey findings can be read here.

In 2020, scammers took advantage of COVID-19-related fears to extract information from their targets. Of the 18% of consumers who reported experiencing a financial loss due to a scam call in 2020, 17% said the call was related to COVID-19. Of the 27% of consumers who reported receiving a scam call from someone posing as a charity or humanitarian group, 44% of those calls were COVID-19 related. Lastly, while COVID-19 scams were the most effective, First Orion found that the most frequent type of scam calls were related to auto warranties, with 22% of all respondents receiving at least one call. This figure has doubled from 2019 when only 11% of responding consumers reported receiving such a call.

“Consumer behavior has changed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Viki Zabala, chief marketing officer at First Orion. “Due to the turmoil most have experienced this year, health and finances are constantly at risk, which means people can’t afford to not answer their phones – and organizations we trust are telling us to answer all calls “just in case.” Scammers are using those very real vulnerabilities to their advantage and it’s working.”

Consumers are torn about whether or not to answer their phones. It is no longer just the responsibility of the consumer to look out for scam calls, but also businesses and mobile carriers. Carriers that implement call protection and robocall mitigation solutions empower their customers to make informed decisions as to whether or not they answer their phone. While enhanced business calling with “Branded Phone Calls” means consumers will know which calls are legitimate, including who is calling and why. This twofold approach will lead to greater reassurance, loyalty, and trust from consumers.

Additional notable findings:

  • Increase in stolen sensitive information: Respondents reported giving their social security number or credit card information to a scammer over the phone more than six times as often, year-over-year.
  • Scammers won’t stop with just one call a day: 18% of consumers reported getting more than three scam calls per day.
  • Charity fraud more than doubled: Of the consumers who received a call from someone posing as a charity/humanitarian, 58% reported a financial loss. In 2019, only 24% of consumers responded YES to this same question.
  • Personal information shared: From calls resulting in a financial loss, 20% of consumers disclosed that they gave the scammers their age while 18% shared their bank information.

First Orion’s Call Protection Suite, takes back the guessing game on if a call is legitimate or not and gives the power back to consumers. By receiving a warning such as “Scam Likely” displayed right on their mobile phone as the call is coming in, consumers feel protected from the risk of identity theft or financial loss. The scammers will lose before the phone call has even started. In addition to providing call protection solutions to major carriers and consumers, First Orion offers its ENGAGE branded calling solution which ensures mobile customers know which business calls are safe to answer and why.

About First Orion

First Orion helps the world’s leading carriers, enterprises, and mobile apps provide mobile users with the protection they need from scams and the identity verification consumers need to answer trusted calls. The company’s flagship First Orion Call Protection Suite currently provides call control, blocking, transparency and management solutions to tens of millions of mobile handsets. Additionally, First Orion’s Call Enhancement Suite, INFORM® and ENGAGE®, tell mobile subscribers who is calling and why, empowering them with the ability to take action, while also providing businesses the ability to verify their identity when calling their customers. On average nearly 87 percent of calls go unanswered because consumers don’t recognize the number or don’t trust the identity. With First Orion – enterprises, SMBs, financial services, insurance providers, COVID tracers, hospitals, government entities, non-profits, last-mile logistics, retailers and more can now deliver critical communications and have their calls answered.

Processing nearly 100 billion calls annually, First Orion​ powers communication transparency solutions for T-Mobile, Metro by T-Mobile, Boost Mobile, Sky, Virgin Mobile and Sprint Prepaid mobile networks along with PrivacyStar and other mobile apps. Established in 2008 and led by Charles Morgan (former Founder & CEO of Acxiom), First Orion is headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas, has offices in Seattle, London, and Dubai, and employs over 250 people globally. More at, @FirstOrionCorp or First Orion Blog.

PrivacyStar, First Orion, ENGAGE, and INFORM are trademarks of First Orion Corp. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.



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