Nearly 20 percent of all phone fraud calls hitting consumers and businesses this year are part of the fake Google listing scam, more than twice as many as the eight percent that are loan scam calls, according to new data released by Pindrop Labs.
The Google listing scam is a relatively new one, having appeared just last year, but it is growing quickly. In 2015 the scam accounted for 4.4 percent of scam calls, whereas so far this year that number is up to 18 percent. The data comes from information gathered by Pindrop Labs, through its phoneypot system, which is a network of several thousand phone numbers controlled by Pindrop. Researchers analyzed 100,000 calls to the phoneypot network over the course of the first six months of this year, 30,000 of which were robocalls, according to data in the Top Consumer Scams Report.
The Google listing scam is a simple one, and it preys on business owners’ desire to grow their businesses and gain more customers. In this scam, a recorded message will inform the victim that his Google listing isn’t up to date and could be removed from the search results. The caller is of course not affiliated with Google, but is only too happy to take the victim’s credit card information in return for a promise to help with the non-existent Google problem.
The calls coming in to Pindrop’s honeypot network were from a network of 1,250 spoofed phone numbers. Spoofing allows the scammers to hide their location and helps their calls seem more legitimate.
Not surprisingly in a presidential election year, political scam calls are high on the list of top scams as well, accounting for six percent of all robocalls. These calls come in a variety of forms, but often involve the caller pretending to be from a polling organization or political party and asking for a donation. Those calls can be difficult to distinguish from legitimate fund raising calls from political parties, especially with caller ID spoofing.
Robocalls have emerged as a major threat to consumers and businesses alike. Just last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler directed wireless and wired phone carriers to begin offering free robocall blocking tools to their customers as soon as possible. AT&T will head up a new strike force on robocalls, the company said this week, as carriers move to respond to the demands from the FCC and customers to address the robocall problem.