Twenty billion scam calls repelled by T-Mobile’s first line of defense


T-Mobile identified or blocked 19.8 billion scam calls in 2023, equalling 628 spam calls every second. Scammers appear to be shifting their focus elsewhere, as their attempts decreased by half.

According to T-Mobile’s 2023 Scam and Robocall Report, network advancements and government intervention were successful at reducing scam call attempts by 51%. In 2022, scammers made 40.5 billion call attempts on the company’s customers.

The telecommunications giant also warns that spammers aren’t slowing down, and bad actors continue to innovate.

Americans collectively lost $10 billion to fraud in 2023, and the median loss was $500, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The number of actual fraud reports in the US, at 5.39 million, was a bit higher last year compared to the previous year.

Providers have implemented the error code 608, a feature that indicates to callers that the initiated call was blocked by the terminating provider. That has led to a significant decline in retry calls.

Providers now also use tools to detect caller ID spoofing, which accounts for almost 86% of incoming mobile calls, T-Mobile’s report reveals.

The Federal Communications Commission requires most providers to implement and use the so-called STIR/SHAKEN in the Internet Protocol (IP) portions of their networks to protect the users. STIR/SHAKEN framework is an industry-standard caller ID authentication technology that allows authentication and verification of caller ID information on an IP network.

T-Mobile boasted advancements in network technology, including machine learning and AI. T-Mobile has developed its Scam Shield technology to keep customers protected against unwanted fraudulent calls.

Similar systems are implemented by other providers. By November 2023, Verizon said their Call Filter blocked 8.2 billion unwanted calls in 2023.

Hiya, a spam call and fraud protection service, which is integrated with Samsung phones and other devices, reported flagging 7.3 billion unwanted calls globally in the last quarter of 2023.

Scammer’s techniques depend on the season

Scammers take advantage of seasonal moments such as tax season, back to school, open enrollment and the weeks leading up to the holidays, then defenders see the highest influx of scams.

“Interestingly, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Easter, and other major holidays saw 97% fewer scam calls than a typical weekday, proving even scammers take time off,” T-Mobile’s report reads. “Scammers continue to rely on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, with repeat tactics that trick unsuspecting customers again and again.”

Healthcare-related scams, such as Medicare, and health insurance, accounted for over 40% of all scam attempts and continued to rise. Financial scams followed, with a 20% share of scam attempts, T-Mobile data shows. Both scams usually target consumers older than 55.

scam-calls

Scammers were observed to impersonate popular retailers (Amazon, Walmart) and delivery providers (UPS, FedEx, U.S. Postal Service) to gain financial information.

Texas, California, Florida, New York, and North Carolina led scam call attempts in 2023.

“As AI technology grows, so do consumer threats with scammers leveraging AI to their advantage. Last year, the industry started to see trends like synthetic voice calls, voice cloning, real-time text-to-voice synthesis, and Generative AI. As the industry continues to see a rise in AI as a way to trick unsuspecting victims, T-Mobile continues to evolve, investing in AI technologies to increase network level protection,” T-Mobile said.

scam-identification

To turn on the Scam Block feature, T-Mobile users have to simply dial #662# from a device or use the app.

To protect yourself and your loved ones from scams, T-Mobile recommends the following:

  • Activate free Caller ID to know who is calling.
  • Don’t answer any calls from unknown numbers. If the caller is legitimate and trying to reach you, they’ll likely leave a message or send a text.
  • If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Any call demanding immediate payment (via gift card or electronic payment) is very suspect.
  • Never reveal personal information, such as your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, passwords or credit card numbers.
  • Don’t assume a caller is who they say they are. If you receive a call from somebody representing a company or government agency, hang up and call back via the phone number listed on the official website to confirm its validity.
  • Simply download the free Scam Shield app and toggle on Scam Block (or enable Scam Block by dialing #662# from your T-Mobile device).
  • Use Scam Shield’s premium features to block individual numbers and entire categories of spam calls, such as telemarketing or political calls.
  • Report suspicious SMS messages by forwarding the text to 7726.

Activate free Caller ID to know who is calling.

Don’t answer any calls from unknown numbers. If the caller is legitimate and trying to reach you, they’ll likely leave a message or send a text.

If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Any call demanding immediate payment (via gift card or electronic payment) is very suspect.

Never reveal personal information, such as your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, passwords or credit card numbers.

Don’t assume a caller is who they say they are. If you receive a call from somebody representing a company or government agency, hang up and call back via the phone number listed on the official website to confirm its validity.

Simply download the free Scam Shield app and toggle on Scam Block (or enable Scam Block by dialing #662# from your T-Mobile device).

Use Scam Shield’s premium features to block individual numbers and entire categories of spam calls, such as telemarketing or political calls.


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