CHARESLTON, S.C. (WCBD)- In the past year, 59 million Americans lost money to phone scammers, according to a study recently published by Truecaller.
The total number taken by scammers was around $30 billion. Of the people who reported losing money to phone scams, the average amount lost was just over $500, up from an average of $351 in 2020. Nearly 20% of victims had their money stolen more than once.
During the later stages of the pandemic, phone scammers took advantage of COVID-19 schemes to make money.
Spencer Wilson, of Fort Mill, says he has gotten these types of calls and has scam numbers pop up on his cell phone at different times during the day.
“It seems like I don’t get as many as I used to, but four, five, six a week, that’s still almost too many because it’s my phone. They can pay the bill if they want to call me I guess,” said Wilson.
Tom Davoren of Charleston has the same issues, but he was getting a couple dozen scam calls on his landline.
“We would get them probably starting from about 9:00 a.m. and they would go until about 9 o’clock at night. It was unbearable,” said Davoren.
There are methods to stop scammers from taking your money.
Phone customers can contact their service or device providers for help or use a third-party company to use caller authentication on their phones.
Eduard Bartholme, the Associate Chief of Consumer and Governmental Affairs’ for the Federal Communications Commission, says that there are a few options.
“There are different third-party vendors. So a lot of people may have heard of Nomorobo, Hiya, YouMail is another service product offering out there,” said Bartholme. “And these are all third-party services where it’s not the carrier themselves offering the blocking, but it’s an independent person who you are allowing visibility into the calls that are coming to you.”
But the best advice Bartholme has is to play it safe when it comes to answering the phone.
“Don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number. As soon as it sounds suspicious, an inbound caller starts asking you for personal information, hang up,” said Bartholme.