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Most Americans Have Been Spoofed

Friday, November 1, 2019

From Demo Memo, Cheryl Russell

Robocalls are a big problem. Nearly 48 billion robocalls came into the U.S. in 2018, up from 29 billion just two years earlier, according to an AARP study. Many of the calls are scams. In an effort to educate the public about the dangers of answering such calls, AARP surveyed a representative sample of adults to see how they responded when their phone rings.

Caller ID is nearly universal, the survey found. In an ideal world, this should help people avoid phone scams. Fully 97% of adults say they can see who is calling on their phone. In fact, they rely on caller ID to determine whether or not to answer the phone.

Fully 92% say they are “very” or “somewhat” likely to answer a call when they see the name and number of a family member or friend, 86% are likely to answer a call when they see the name of a business with which they have a relationship, and 59% are likely to answer a call from a local area code.

That's the problem. Scammers are spoofing local area codes to entice people to answer the phone. And it's working. In the past month, fully 74% of the public has answered a call from a local area code only to discover it was a spoof – a robocall disguised as a local call.

“Many Americans rely on caller ID to determine who is calling them and, as a result, many are being deceived into answering calls from criminal telemarketers,” says the AARP report.

Although most Americans say they have not given robocallers their personal information, the survey results show that many could be enticed to do so. When presented with hypothetical call scenarios, a substantial 39% of survey respondents say they would be likely to answer a call if the caller told them their credit card had been compromised, and 29% say they would be likely to answer a call if told their Social Security number had been compromised.

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