New Technology Could Prevent Scam Calls to Cell Phones

Inside Subprime: Oct 17, 2018

By Lindsay Frankel

As consumer advocates warn cell-phone users about caller ID spoofing, Apple is introducing new software that would allow your phone to determine the legitimacy of a call. The patent comes at a time of need, since robocalls have been on the rise. There were a record-breaking 30.5 billion spam calls placed last year, according to a report from YouMail. Scam callers are often imposters claiming to help users secure lower interest rates or take out loans with bad credit.

Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, recommended that call recipients ignore unrecognized numbers at the time of the report. “As these scams become more prevalent and realistic, it makes sense to simply not accept calls from any unrecognized numbers, and instead allow them to go straight to voicemail.”

But some scam artists appear to call from recognized numbers. Apple’s new software could protect users from these robocalls. It would alert the called party of ‘spoofing callers,’ or scam artists that use a fake caller ID value that the recipient is likely to trust. The patent abstract reads, “For example, the caller ID value may be associated with law enforcement, an electric company or with a family relative of the called party. The spoofing caller may attempt to induce the called party to take some financial action detrimental to the called party based on this trust of the observed caller ID value. In some countries, this kind of financial scam is widespread and a problem for everyday users of mobile devices.”

To detect spam calls, “The mobile device checks parameters using templates to evaluate a consistency of the invitation with respect to a database in the mobile device,” the abstract reads.

While there is no telling when Apple’s patent will be developed into a product, Google’s new Pixel 3 device already helps users detect robocalls. Pixel 3 users can utilize the “Screen Call” feature to get information about the caller, and if the call goes to voicemail, an automatic transcript helps called parties identify spam.

In the meantime, the scam calling problem is only expected to become more prevalent. First Orion, a leading provider of communication transparency, estimates that almost half of all calls to cell-phones will be scams by 2019. And while the Federal Communications Commission works with technology companies to prevent spam calls, First Orion CEO Charles D. Morgan says “we still see rampant increases” as scam artists develop new ways to trick their victims.

As technology companies work to develop protections against robocalls, mobile phone users need to be aware of red flags. Never give your bank account information to a stranger on the phone, and if in doubt about the legitimacy of the call, hang up and call back. Imposters are skilled at making realistic pleas for your information, so exercise caution and verify the caller before providing any private information.

Call scams have been on the rise and many are linked to predatory payday loan providers (both real and fictitious). For other major calling scam headlines and advice, check out:

15 People and 5 Businesses Indicted in Payday Loan Call Center Scam

How to Protect Yourself from Payday Loan Call Scams

How to Protect Yourself From Phone Scams

For information on predatory payday loans, check out all of our Subprime Reports, including:

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