SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwired - February 01, 2017) - With the winter season spreading rain and snow all over the country, fraudsters are taking advantage of rising electricity bills to prey on consumers. Hiya, the global leader in phone spam protection, today announced that, based on an estimated 10.2 billion unwanted phone calls in 2016 (Jan.-Dec. 2016), phone utility scams have gone up 109%, with these scams expected to continue to rise in 2017.
"Scammers are constantly looking for new ways to defraud consumers and we've seen triple digit growth in utility company scams in the past year," said Jan Volzke, VP Reputation Data at Hiya. "While many consumers now know to be wary of calls claiming to be from the IRS or offering a free cruise that seems too good to be true, the latest threat comes disguised in the form of the utility companies that we trust to provide our basic services, like gas and electricity."
Hiya analyzed data from more than 3.5 billion calls and texts it identifies each month to help consumers identify the signs of utility scam calls.
The most common companies scammers claim to be calling from include:
- General Electric
- Duke Energy
- Georgia Power
- Consumers Energy
Consumers should be aware of the three main types of utility scams:
- Offers to lower utility bill. Scammers call to offer a plan to help lower the consumer's electric bill. This will usually include asking the homeowner for account information and/or billing information to "review" the account.
- Threats to shut off electricity. Scammers will call and threaten that electricity will be shut off unless an overdue payment is made immediately. Consumers may also be directed to call an 800 number to avoid a service interruption. Watch out for messages that urge consumers to act fast, "This is an urgent public service announcement regarding your electricity bill."
- Federal program assistance. The call will usually say the consumer is eligible for a reduced rate due to a federal program.
To help Americans avoid these dangerous calls, Hiya has identified the top area codes where these utility scams appear to originate.
- 508 - Massachusetts (south-central and southeast)
- 201 - Hudson, NJ
- 914 - Westchester County, NY
- 323 - Los Angeles, CA
- 330 - Akron, OH
- 510 - Oakland, CA
- 916 - Sacramento, CA
- 717 - Harrisburg, PA
- 857 - Boston, MA
- 440 - Cleveland, OH
As the leading caller ID and call blocking app, Hiya helps consumers determine who is on the other end of the line and decide whether or not to pick up the phone. This includes identifying legitimate numbers as well as identifying and blocking known spam or scam numbers, so users can avoid falling victim to fraudsters that are masking as utility companies.
Hiya is available for free on iTunes and Google Play. To learn more about Hiya visit www.Hiya.com.
Hiya provides enhanced caller ID products and services designed to make the phone experience better. With a database of more over 1.5 billion unique numbers globally, Hiya leverages its expansive algorithms to identify unknown calls and monitor phone-based threats for consumers and businesses. Hiya analyzes more than 3.5 billion calls and text per month, and estimated that more than 10.2 billion unwanted calls were made to mobile phones in 2016. Hiya is available as a consumer app on Google Android and iPhone and is integrated into the phone experience for AT&T Call Protect, T-Mobile and Samsung Galaxy S7 users worldwide. For more information, please visit www.hiya.com.