Holiday season scam activity is up 129 percent

Photo (c) weerapatkiatdumrong - Getty Images

A survey finds fake charity scams are the most effective

If you’ve received a phone call from an obvious scammer this holiday season, you’re in good company. A new report by First Orion shows scam calls are up 129 percent over last year’s holiday season.

A survey of 1,000 consumers found 62 percent had received a call from a scammer within the last seven days, compared to only 27 percent a year ago. Over half the consumers in the survey said they receive more spam calls than legitimate phone calls.

First Orion is the same company that recently predicted that over half the calls made to mobile phones next year will be fraudulent unless providers do something to screen them. Providers are under pressure from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and state attorneys general to step up the campaign against illegal number “spoofing” and the escalating number of robocalls.

One of the most prevalent holiday scams is a caller asking for a donation to a phony charity. The survey shows that kind of scam has the best chance of success.

Charity scams are the most effective

Sixteen percent of consumers said they received a call from someone claiming to be from a charitable organization. Unfortunately, 25 percent of those consumers said they fell for it.

Other common calls pushing scams this holiday season revolve around debt and credit cards. Sixteen percent of consumers said that was their most recent call. Twelve percent said their most recent scam call tried to sell them on a cruise or vacation package, and 12 percent said their last call was from someone claiming to be from the IRS.

Last year, scammers averaged $430 from each successful swindle. Of the 1,000 consumers in the survey, 8 percent said they had experienced some kind of financial loss from a criminal who called them.

Of the people who admitted to being scammed, 43 percent said they divulged credit card information while 28 percent said they revealed their Social Security number. Eleven percent said they gave a scammer their username and password to one of their accounts.

There could be a significant benefit for any cellular provider who finds a workable method of blocking spam calls. The First Orion survey found 79 percent of consumers would be more inclined to switch to a carrier that could automatically block scam calls.

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