HOUSTON (CW39) Stimulus checks have been a life line to keep people a float during this pandemic. But a new study shows phone call scams involving stimulus checks are on the rise.
Hiya ,a company that provides intelligent call protection, identification, and analytics services, has put together a report that includes the most popular scams and the top states targeted. Based on their study, more than 13 billion calls are being reported. Hiya’s data also shows these scams have doubled in each of the last two months, reaching an all-time high of more than 1.1 million stimulus check scam calls so far in the month of June alone.
According to Hiya, during the worst week in June, there was a 150% increase in stimulus check scam calls from the prior week. If you compare the calls to 2020, when stimulus checks were distributed in April 2020, January 2021 and March 2021, the study shows stimulus scam calls in June 2021, have already surpassed the totals for those three months combined by 33%.
Top states targeted:
- Texas – 401 – 13%
- California – 259 – 9%
- Florida – 182 – 6%
- Louisiana – 114 – 4%
- Illinois – 100 – 3%
Texas was the most targeted state, accounting for 13% of the more than 1.1 million stimulus check-related scams calls in June 2021. California (9%) and Florida (6%) round out the top three.
The scams target your personal information. Tactics include requesting the victims bank information to order direct deposits of funds that day. Also, fake companies or government agencies offering loan forgiveness or loan advances if victims forfeit their stimulus check, and fake agencies claiming victims’ social security is needed for verification because the number is no longer active or valid.
These fraud calls also include financial-related scams, such as targeting stimulus checks, loans, and debt, to healthcare-related scams, such as selling fake health insurance or fake vaccines.
The majority of the most targeted area codes are located in the South and Southwest, including Texas, Florida and Arizona.
Top Area Codes Targeted*:
- San Antonio (210)
- Dallas (214)
- Fort Worth (817)
- Peoria, Arizona (928)
- Springfield, Missouri (417)
- Atlanta (404)
- Oklahoma City (405)
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida (954)
- Salt Lake City (801)
- Lafayette, Louisiana (337)
*Nearest metropolitan area listed
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has opened a prime opportunity for scammers to find new victims, there are measures consumers can take to protect themselves.
Tips on mitigating the risk of scam calls include:
-Do not answer or return calls if you do not recognize the number.
-Under no condition would anyone from the federal government call asking for bank account details, social security numbers or other personal information.
-Enable your carrier`s call protection service (like AT&T Call Protect) or install a call protection app.
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