Get out your phone. If you’ve ever wanted to see scammers twist in the wind, this may be the best shot you’ve had in a while.
Information has been shared with ConsumerAffairs by BeenVerified, revealing the 12 phone numbers perpetrating the most phone and text message scams. If you want to keep these cybercreeps at bay, here’s the perfect opportunity to block their numbers and save yourself the trouble.
Many of the calls came through carriers that you recognize – AT&T, Google Voice, T-Mobile, Verizon – but there were two at the top that you may have never heard of: Onvoy and TextNow.
Those are VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) companies and BeenVerified analysts say that VoIP is the most common way fraudsters communicate.
Text message scams have taken the hill
Starting with a list of 150,000 dodgy phone numbers, BeenVerified users reported using the company’s reverse phone tool to allow the company to segment each call into different categories of scams.
Nine of the top 12 phone numbers users checked were related to unwanted text messages urging users to click on a suspicious link or dial a phone number, often with an urgent message.
Business impersonation scams accounted for a third of the biggest culprits in the study, all involving bank and credit cards.
Delivery scams hit number one during the pandemic, but with all the coverage that they received over the last two years, consumers are more cautious than they were then. But scammers aren’t giving up on the angle.
Three of the Dirty Dozen were related to alleged delivery scams, posing as DHL, FedEx or others attempting to entice users to click a link. Delivery scams rose to become the most common users reported at the height of the pandemic.
“You won a prize!” That once bright shining moment has slipped considerably, but it’s still being used. Among the top 12 scam numbers, two purportedly promised users cash or product prizes, another way fraudsters attempt to lure victims.
Here are the top 12 scam phone numbers
Here’s the list of BeenVerified’s Dirty Dozen phone numbers behind the biggest scam calls and texts it analyzed.
1. (865) 630-4266. Victims of this scam text message are warned that their Wells Fargo accounts have been temporarily locked and that they should call Wells Fargo as soon as possible.
2. (469) 709-7630. According to reports, either the user or a loved one was mentioned by name for a failed delivery attempt under this phone number.
3. (805) 637-7243. ”It appears that scammers may use the same number for a variety of scams,” BeenVerified’s associate director of Data Studies, Kevin Voigt, said. The two most prominent uses are from scammers claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House or from Visa’s fraud department. “Still more users reported this number for calls claiming that an unpaid bill may result in a freezing of their assets. Others reported calls from this number in both Spanish and Chinese,”
4. (858) 605-9622. The scam text reads: (Bank name): ACCNT #5674 temporarily ON HOLD! Your security is our priority. Call now: (858) 605-9622 (Do Not Disregard!). Users reported this text-based scam from this number that namechecks a variety of brand name banks such as PNC, Chase, and Wells Fargo.
5. (863) 532-7969. This “your debit card has been frozen” scam typically doesn’t mention a bank because, as Voight adroitly points out, “Who doesn’t have a debit card?”
6. (904) 495-2559. Next to alarming news, prize and lottery scams are the next largest group of golden fleecers. BeenVerified gave this as an example of what one looks like: “ATT Free Msg: Congrats to 2 lucky users! Today’s winners of our raffle are: Tim N***** and you, (Name)! Claim now.”
7. (312) 339-1227. Another dual-use number, this one pushes either weight loss or tracking a package.
8. (917) 540-7996. This is the outlier in the Dirty Dozen because to the people who reported the number, it sounded like a spam call – “Hello, this is Ghostface. Where am I hiding?” – but it’s really just a marketing stunt for the latest “Scream” movie.
9. (347) 437-1689. Another double-headed number used for both a small-dollar tax scam and a free Dyson vacuum. The BeenVerified Phone Scam Monitor reported a rise in this alleged scam, an update of an old script where fraudsters bait victims with false claims of big-ticket purchases on their accounts.
In this revised version, scammers claim that the target owes a small amount of unpaid taxes or outstanding charges – small enough (like a dollar or two) that the victim will click on a link to find out more. Of course, one click on that link and a world of hurt begins.
10. (301) 307-4601. This variation of the delivery scam claims to be from the US Postal Service and instructs users to click a link to view their package on hold.
11. (878) 877-1402. Similar to the “frozen debit card” scam, this phone number is notorious for sending out text messages personalized by adding the victim’s phone number. One BeenVerified user called the number and followed automated prompts until she was told to put in her bank PIN number. “I hung up,” she said. Smart move, lady.
12. (202) 221-7923. If someone named “Kelsey” pings you about a student loan forgiveness deadline, don’t fall for it. She (or whoever Kelsey is) is just trying to leverage all the confusion that student loans have endured over the last couple of years.
Now that you’ve got the list, time to use your noggin
Robert Lowry, vice president of Security at BeenVerified, told ConsumerAffairs that your best defense against phone and text scams is a healthy dose of skepticism.
“Independently call companies directly to verify any claims instead of clicking links or using phone numbers sent in text messages. Be wary of an 'emergency' or immediate call to action,” he said. “If a payment is requested through odd channels like P2P apps, gift cards, or crypto, hang up. It's probably a scam.”