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Robocalls plague the world’s smartphone users, but have you ever stopped to ask why you receive them in the first place? Why are robocallers able to hide behind a local number so that you pick up the phone? Scammers are actually using a business tool you may have heard of… Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, a modern phone solution that in the hands of anyone else is extremely helpful.
VoIP is great for businesses, but scammers can use it to cause mischief in its own right. Since VoIP uses the Internet to place calls, scammers can work around the call blocks that used to be a way to block their attacks in the past.
VoIP gives cybercriminals the ability to imitate just about any number out there with a process called spoofing. One of the scariest parts about this is that spoofed calls cannot be stopped by the current telephone infrastructure, but it actually gets worse. Since hackers and criminals can spoof a number from your neighborhood, it’s more likely that you’ll answer. They can even spoof your own number, shockingly enough.
This doesn’t mean that a VoIP scammer will call you--all we’re trying to say is that it’s more accessible than it’s ever been before. Some of the more common scams involve a scammer calling a hotel room posing as the front desk to confirm credit card details. It’s much easier and more efficient for a scammer to pull off attacks through the use of automation. Hundreds of potential victims can be robocalled with a spoofed number, with only the ones who pick up the phone being interacted with.
Different areas of the world experience more trouble with spam attacks. The top ten countries for phone spam break down as follows:
Furthermore, the United States saw a 46 percent increase in robocall spam in 2018. Among all locations within the U.S., the top ten targeted areas are in Texas, including Austin, Dallas, and Houston.
Google has begun the first steps to implement a preventative process utilizing its Google Assistant. When a call is received, the Assistant answers, asks for the reason for the call, and provides a transcript of the response. The recipient then knows whether or not the call is legitimate. This happens on the device, thus keeping your calls private.
The FTC has been given the task of stopping these calls, and steps have been taken to approving another Google technology, STIR/SHAKEN (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited/Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs), which can potentially authenticate calls by confirming the number is associated with the device making the call.
How often do you receive spoofed calls? What would you do to make them stop? Let us know in the comments.
Rodd Ahrenstorff is the Director of Business Operations for KT Connections, as well as a member of the company’s ownership team starting in 2014. Rodd has been working in the computer and telecommunication fields for over twenty years—a term during which he has held a number of leadership positions. In the past, he has served as a broadcast television engineer, an systems architect, and most recently Director of Information Technology, including a role as a HIPAA Security Officer for behavioral health and multi-specialty medical providers.