COVID-19 Phone Scams

Let’s be honest, joining a fight does not sound like fun under any circumstance. The good news? This fight doesn’t require fists, guns or any other weapon beside your mobile phone. The fight against robocall scams, and the new wave of COVID-19 scams in particular, is something that we can all participate in and have an immediate and direct impact on shutting down the offending scammers.

In this article we cover:

COVID-19 Robocall Scams Proliferate

COVID-19 is clearly a fact of life impacting pretty much the entire world in one way or another. One of the ways the virus has impacted a larger population than those actually infected is the wave of COVID-19 robocall scams. You know it must be bad when the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issues a set of warnings and safety tips:

“As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact the United States, phone scammers have seized the opportunity to prey on consumers.

The FCC has received reports of scam and hoax text message campaigns and scam robocalls offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears. A text message scam may falsely advertise a cure or an offer to be tested for coronavirus. Do not click on links in texts related to the virus, and check cdc.gov/coronavirus for the most current information. Text message hoaxes may claim that the government will order a mandatory national two-week quarantine, or instruct you to go out and stock up on supplies. The messages can appear to be from a ‘next door neighbor.’ The National Security Council tweeted that these are fake.

A text message scam impersonating the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services informs recipients that they must take a “mandatory online COVID-19 test” with a link, warns the BBB.”

“Scammers are also using robocalls to target consumers during this national emergency.”

Even the Federal Trade Commission is getting in on the act with their “Socially distancing from COVID-19 robocall scams” blog. You can also stay up to date on which health-related phone scams are currently active here.

Early Detection Is Key to Scam Prevention

As with any disease or malady, early detection is key. The power of a robocall scam is the ability to attack, hundreds, thousands or even millions of people with ease. That’s why when target zero (i.e. first person getting a specific robocall from a specific carrier account) gets a call that is detected as a scam, the faster that scam is identified and appropriate authorities notified and others using the same app are automatically protected, the better for all. The only way to stop a robocall epidemic is to know where it is happening in real time.

Fighting robocall scams is not as easy as just avoiding or ignoring unknown calls. However, it is a fight that can be won quickly when call data is being used to actually detect and shut down the scammers as soon as they start up.

With everyone sitting around at home thanks to new “shelter in place” requirements, you are most likely getting robocalls all day while you are staring at your phone screen. Why let this frustration translate into fights against each other when we can fight against robocalls? Sounds too good to be true? Check out what YouMail does to lead the fight against robocall scams.

How to Stop Robocalls During Covid-19?

YouMail is at the forefront of the fight against robocall scams. In fact, some YouMail users got a few calls we detected as a COVID-19 scam campaign, and we immediately automatically alerted the USTelecom Industry Traceback Group (ITG), who used our data to trace back the calls that hit our users. They were able to find the carrier initiating the traffic and put together a notice for the carrier to show proof of the illegal calls/voicemails. This then prompted the carrier to turn off the customer and eliminate their ability to continue scamming others from that account.

If you are not familiar with ITG:

“USTelecom leads the Industry Traceback Group (ITG), a collaborative effort of companies across the wireline, wireless, VoIP and cable industries that actively trace and identify the source of illegal robocalls. The ITG coordinates with federal and state law enforcement agencies to identify non-cooperative providers so they can take enforcement action, as appropriate. The ITG operates under the Communications Act (Section 222(d) (2)) which permit telecommunications carriers to disclose and/or permit access to Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) if suspected fraud, abuse or unlawful use of services exist.

The mission of the ITG is to facilitate a neutral coordination platform for voice service providers to trace and identify the source of illegal robocalls to protect voice networks and consumers from fraudulent, abusive and/or unlawful robocalls”

The more of you that join YouMail, the faster these robocalls can be detected and shut off. YouMail will not only block the offending calls that hit our users, and also fool robocallers into shutting off their calls, but it’s now also the key to detecting these scams and shutting them down at the source!

Even the Wall Street Journal has reported on the effectiveness of this strategy in an article titled “How Enforcers Curtailed a Coronavirus Robocall Scam” which stated “A rare victory shows how to stop a likely fraud—and how it may get easier in the future.”

Be Part of the Solution

Bottomline, you can help join the fight against COVID-19 and all scam calls as well as vishing and smishing by becoming part of the YouMail family, and it is easier than you think to get started. In fact, it’s free and you can get started today in less than 5 minutes. You shouldn’t have to pay for services like blocking scammers or robocalls. You also shouldn’t be stuck with the limitations your phone carrier imposes on you.

Let’s end robocalls together.

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