What kind of monster doesn’t like puppies? Or kittens? Or a bowl of hot soup on a chilly day? The same person who would seek to harm the elderly, that’s who.
We see it time and again: vile fraudsters targeting the most vulnerable in society. Think about it, we spend our whole lives, decades upon decades, building up our life savings so that when the day comes that we’re unable to carry on the rigors of the workplace, we have enough in the bank to live out our twilight years in modesty. Those savings were likely earned through hard labor, hopefully some good fortune, and maybe an inheritance if we’re lucky. But it can all slip away in the blink of an eye, or more specifically, the ring of a phone line. The criminals pull it off by preying on our hardships, our insecurities, and our good nature to do the right thing during one of the most vulnerable stages of life.
In this article, we cover:
- The prime targets of the disability benefits scam.
- How robocalls are hitting peak numbers not seen since their 2019 heyday.
- State legislature fighting back.
Take this week’s featured scam, the disability benefits scam. In it, the robocall recording refers to social security disability benefits.
“Pete” from National Disability claims he can help get your monthly disability money. “Amber” the social security disability advisor says you called her first. “Christine” urges you to “get moving on this as quickly as possible.” Do any of their voices sound familiar? Regardless of the fictitious persona the scam robocaller uses, they all rely on the same basic tactics to deceive the most vulnerable.
Who gets social security? Your sweet grandma. The perpetrators are obviously targeting the elderly with this one. And while more generalized IRS scams, vehicle warranty scams, and bank scams target a larger swath of society, the scammers do well against seniors. You know it, we know it, and they know it, which is why this particular scam is so insidious in its pointedness.
And despite the fact that our elders are the often the wisest and most experienced among us, many find themselves in compromised health situations seeking coverage from an often overly complex healthcare system, doubly so if they rely on government-sponsored Medicare or Medicaid. Throw in the phrase “social security,” and COVID and vaccine anxiety, and you’ve got a situation ripe for exploitation.
Throwback Robocall Rates
If you’ve noticed robocall scams seem to be nuisance again, you’re absolutely correct. Robocalls nationwide are trending in the wrong direction. After a virtual reprieve from the plight, which coincided with the start of the pandemic last March, robocalls have been making a steady comeback that is now hitting pre-pandemic levels. The 4.9 billion robocalls placed in March 2021 represent a 72 percent increase since April 2020 and an absolute throwback to robocallers’ heyday back in 2019 when totals regularly topped 5 billion.
If you’re in the South, you’re an even bigger target. Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Memphis; Macon, Georgia; Washington DC; and Albany, Georgia, rank out as the five hardest hit municipalities per capita at 43.2, 38.7, 37.6, 36.9, and 36.2, respectively. A glance at our Robocall Index heat map tells a very troubling story for the South — just click here, scroll down to “Top Affected Areas Nationwide in March 2021,” and tick the slider over to “Per Capita.” The concentration below the Mason-Dixon line is quite alarming.
Just a little further down the page, we can see how robocalls break out by category. Two of every three robocalls are the sort no one wants: scams (43 percent) and telemarketing (23 percent). Not all robocalls are unwelcome — that third call of every three is something you may actually want and signed up for: alerts and reminders (23 percent) and payment reminders (12 percent).
Ohio Takes a Stand Against Robocalls
It’s not just we, the good people at YouMail whose job it is to defend the world from robocall evil-doers, who are alarmed by these trends. The legislature of the seventh largest state by population (the 19th highest recipient of robocalls per capita) in the country has had enough. Ohio Senate Bill 54 is making its way to Senate Chamber floor, and if passed, the state’s attorney general would have the authority to prosecute offenses of unauthorized use of property and telecommunications fraud, and prohibit any person, entity, or merchant from violating the federal Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, as well as the Telemarketing Sales Rule.
If this legislation is eventually signed into law, any of those disability benefits scam robocalls originating from the Buckeye State will be subject to a civil penalty per violation — a penalty, in fact, that escalates to a fourth-degree felony if the victim is elderly, disabled, or an active-duty service member.
This law will help deter baddies from their nefarious activities, but those are the consequences IF they are caught in the state of Ohio. If you’d like to avoid ever getting attacked and scammed in the first place, a robocall blocking app is a necessary download for your iOS and Android devices. YouMail’s call blocker flexes the data muscle of its Robocall Index to protect users from millions of unwanted calls. Our database allows us to protect more than 350 million phone numbers from billions of robocalls every month. Our technology blocks known bad numbers, flags suspected spam, and can even remove your number from future attacks.
It’s all quite magical, like the love and affection of a furry puppy companion or your dear Mimi and Pipa.