It's well documented that scammers are everywhere online, but a new report from call security specialist Hiya reminds us not to overlook good old fashioned phone fraud, highlighting the ongoing prevalence of Amazon scams and a recent surge in Venmo-related deception.
According to the firm's latest Global Call Threat Report for Q2 2023, Amazon continues to inspire a large amount of instances of phone fraud and is the second most common scam call in the UK.
In the US, however, mobile payment service Venmo has leapfrogged Amazon for the last quarter and is the third most prevalent pretense phone scammers operate under, after pretending to be family members and the long-running auto warranty ruse.
Watch Out for Venmo Scams
Usefully, the Hiya report reminds us of how the most common Venmo scams operate. Venmo scams aren't anything new, of course, and typically they'll still start with an unexpected call or text message explaining that there's been an unauthorized charge on your account.
Alternatively, the criminals operating the scam may say there have been suspicious log-in attempts on your account. After that, you'll be connected to a phony customer service rep, who'll try and get you to verify your Venmo details with them.
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Overall, Hiya data shows that as many as one in every four phone calls received in the US can be classed as spam, with the company reporting a suspected 6.5 billion spam calls worldwide in Q2 2023.
AI and the Future of Fraud
We've reported on the rise of AI voice scams before and the new Global Call Threat Report reminds us that artificial intelligence is bolstering the scammer toolbox in new and frequently terrifying ways.
Specifically, it once again highlights the extreme case where AI was used to fake a child's kidnapping and demand a ransom payment. Phone fraud is just one of the many AI and ChatGPT scams you need to watch out for these days, though the company warns that AI likely represents the future of phone fraud.
“AI voice-generated scams are very likely the model of the future and we expect to find more evidence going forward,” commented Kush Parikh, President of Hiya.
Wham, Bam, No Thank You Scams
Phone fraud probably isn't news to you, but the Hiya report underlines the unfortunate fact that you just can't seem to get away from scammers these days.
As illustrated by the continued popularity of Amazon and Venmo scams, anything related to online shopping and payments continues to be ripe for exploitation by criminals, while even LinkedIn scams are causing a blight on the otherwise staunchly professional social network.
Throw in AI changing the fraud landscape in the same, dramatic way that it's reshaping other aspects of our lives and it's clear that cybercriminals have come a long way from the humble email phishing scam, dangerous as these still can be.
Now, we're not saying that you should treat every unexpected email, text, or phone call with suspicion. We're just saying that's what we do.