Phone scammers are getting better at tricking you into giving up your personal information, according to the 2020 Annual Scam Call Report from First Orion. The survey shows that scammers improved their efficiency in 2020, mainly using the COVID-19 pandemic to steal personal information from millions of victims. The data paints a clear picture of why people are becoming more reluctant to answer their phones if the call is from an unknown number.
Two key findings in the 2020 Holiday Scam Call Report show how scammers have gotten better at victimizing people. First, the report found that the volume of scam calls in 2020 essentially held steady compared with 2019. The number of people who said they got three or more scam calls per day increased by just 1%, while the number of people who reported 50 or more scam calls in a month stayed the same at 21%.
But that’s where things get interesting – even though people mostly got the same number of scam calls in 2020, those calls became a lot more effective. In 2020, scammers succeeded in getting people to give up their personal information 270% more often than in 2019. More than one in four people reported a loss of personal information or financial loss due to a phone scam in 2020. What’s more, scams targeting Social Security numbers were 550% percent more effective in 2020.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a perfect storm for scam calls: more people were at home to answer their phones, and scammers used the pandemic as cover for their fraud. Out of all the scam calls that succeeded in getting personal information, 17% used the COVID-19 pandemic to get in the door. The next most frequent cover story was fake banks at 12%, followed by family threats (10%), offering a prize or money (9%), and student loan scams (9%). The pandemic also showed up in charity fraud. When scammers used fake charities as bait to scam people, 44% of them said they were collecting money for pandemic relief.
Other findings from the report showed that auto warranty calls were the most common scam call made in 2020, with 22% of people reporting getting at least one. That has doubled from 2019’s mark of 11%. Fake bank or credit card calls came in second at 14%, and false IRS/tax and insurance calls tied for third place at 9%.
These findings make it clear why people are becoming less likely to answer their phones. Businesses looking to improve their call answer rates should look to a branded call solution, like Engage from First Orion. Engage lets the customer know who is calling and why, helping them feel more confident to take your call. Check out how you can make Engage work for your business and start getting more answers.