danger-2016It’s that time of year again. We’ve asked Pindrop Labs researchers to break out their crystal balls and make some predictions for the coming year in phone fraud. Below are a few of the trends that our team will be watching for in 2016.

Scammers Hit the Campaign Trail

2016 is an election year, which means fraudsters will be getting political. Already, the Pindrop scam scanner has been seeing a major uptick in phone spam from political robocalls. New robocalling technology is allowing candidates to organize live “town hall” meetings over the phone. It is also easier than ever for voters to donate money quickly and easily over the phone.

Prediction: In 2016, consumers should be on the lookout for fraudulent callers asking for campaign donations. Pindrop researchers recommend never donating to a political campaign during an unsolicited phone call.


Creative Data Breaches

In 2015, data breaches at Ashley Madison and toymaker vTech proved that cybercriminals are after more than your Social Security Number and mother’s maiden name. Fraudsters are building out profiles of their targets with information stolen from data breaches, and using those details for sophisticated social engineering and spear-phishing attacks. Creative fraudsters are exploiting all kinds of information, from children’s chat records, to travel plans, and even sexual preferences.

Prediction: Creative data breaches will continue in 2016. Pindrop Labs researchers point out that the healthcare industry and companies involved in the Internet of Things (IoT) are particularly vulnerable. They also see popular “sharing economy” sites, like Uber and AirBnB as lucrative potential targets for data breach hackers.


Mobile Wallet Pick Pockets

One of the major cybersecurity stories in 2015 was the introduction of Apple Pay and the subsequent flood of fraudulent activity. Fraudsters quickly learned how to manipulate Apple Pay authentication procedures by socially engineering call center agents. Though many financial institutions have improved Apple Pay security measures, Apple Pay competitors are gaining popularity. Financial Institutions now need to contend with Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, PayPal, Chase Pay, and more.

Prediction: As mobile wallets become more mainstream, fraudsters will find new loopholes and workarounds to take advantage of those new technologies.


Impersonating Uncle Sam

2015 has been the year of the IRS scam. Fraudsters are no longer targeting just vulnerable populations like immigrants and the elderly. Instead, they’re blasting scam robocalls, blanketing the country with scary messages from the “IRS.” Fraudsters have learned that Americans are generally intimidated when it comes to law enforcement, the federal government, and complicated financial filings. Adding to the difficulties, in late 2015, Congress passed a law allowing government sponsored robocalls to collect debt owed to the government – think back taxes and overdue student loans. Before, the government told consumers they would never call to collect back taxes, but the line may now be muddled.

Prediction: IRS scammers will expand into “collecting” other types of government debt. College graduates with outstanding student loans should be on high alert.

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