We’ve all gotten an unknown call on our cell phone, only to pick it up and find out that “Rachel from Cardholder Services” is on the line to rip us off.
Call Spam is nothing new, but according WhitePages, the call spam problem isn’t hindered by current legislation, and 25% of unknown callers are spammers trying to sell you something or rip you off.
If you get an unknown call between 11 AM and noon on a Monday, the chance of it being spam is even higher as this is the most popular time for spam calls to cell phones. Tuesday during the same period is also a popular time for cell phone telemarketers to interrupt and annoy you.
The annoying little sibling of Call Spam is Text or SMS Spam, which can range from sales pitches to scams and cost consumers over $300 million a year. Text message spam is even more dangerous. Text message spam carrying malware links, which can damage your phone or steal personal information, have increased 400% since the summer of 2010.
WhitePages.com put together an informative Call and SMS infographic which you can see below. You can see the worst telemarketing offenders, such as Worldwide Commerce Associates (314-627-6914), Consumer Connections (561-463-5521) and Courtesy Awards (855-249-3979, which are responsible for much of the call spam you get. The top 1% of call spam companies like those listed above are responsible for over 6.5 million calls and texts.
The sad part is that we lose $40 billion a year to fraud based telemarketing and the majority of those targeted by this fraud are over 50 years old. I expect to see SMS and cell phone call spam increase for this demographic as smartphones and cell phones use increases.
Stop Call and Text Spam
Unfortunately it is difficult to stop all call and text spam, but if you want to put an end to frequent offenders, you can follow these steps to get a grip on unwanted call and text spam on your cell phone.
You can register your cell phone number with the national Do Not Call list, but this won’t stop unscrupulous spammers.
If you get calls and texts from the same numbers, you can login to your account at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile to block the number. Unfortunately you are limited to 5 blocked numbers unless you want to pay for an additional service on Verizon.
You can also install call blocking and text blocking apps on your smartphone. TrueCaller claims to handle this on the iPhone, but has mixed reviews. Call Blocker, Call Control and Extreme Call Blocker offer high ratings for Android users.
WhitePages app will help you know who is calling you, even telling you who is calling form a cell phone number, which may help you know if you want to pickup.
TrapCall, shown in the video below, is another good option that can help you avoid unwanted call spam and deal with annoying prank callers.
Worst Call and Text Spammers
WhitePages.com identified the following companies as the worst offenders for call and text spam. If you want to get ahead of the game, you can add these common numbers used by these companies to your blocked list now.
- Allied Interstate: Calls from this company are very persistent, sometimes calling many times throughout the same day, leaving no message if not answered. Coincidentally, Allied Interstate was fined $1.75 MM dollars in 2010 to settle charges of repeat violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The number most frequently associated with this company is 973-944-1999.
- CBE Group: Calls from this company are regarding late payments to healthcare, utility, telecommunications, financial, education and government bills. According to their website, CBE aims to redefine the future of debt collection, making sure that consumers are treated with respect. The number most frequently associated with this company is 515-954-7687.
- Consumer Connections: Calls from this company start by asking people if they are planning on going back to school within the next six months. The number most frequently associated with this company is 561-463-5521.
- Courtesy Awards: Calls from this company most commonly offer gas and retail gift card vouchers as a reward for answering five questions. They also ask for credit card information so they can charge the recipient whatever it costs to send the cards. The number most frequently associated with this company is 855-249-3979.
- CMI Group: Calls from this company are regarding late payments to cable, medical and commercial bills. The number most frequently associated with this company is 800-377-7789.
- ER Solutions/Convergent: Calls from this company are regarding debt of all kinds. ER Solutions was acquired by Convergent, which is one of the largest debt collectors in the country. The numbers most frequently associated with this company are 800-322-2307 and 877-495-0400.
- Grocery Savings Direct: Calls from this company suggest that the person they are calling qualifies for $1000 in groceries but that they need to send $3.00 in order to receive the voucher. The number most frequently associated with this company is 313-528-6738.
- Portfolio Recovery Associates: This company, whose tagline reads “We’re giving debt collection a good name”, purchases and manages portfolios of defaulted and bankrupt consumer receivables and provides a broad range of accounts receivable management services to lenders, service providers, governments, and others. The numbers most frequently associated with this company are 757-275-8578, 757-506-0177 and 731-256-7106.
- Santander: Calls from this company are regarding late payments on auto loans. Headquartered in Dallas, Santander USA is owned by the Spanish company Banco Santander and in addition to originating loans, also buys loans from small and large banks and credit unions across the country. The numbers most frequently associated with this company are 888-222-4227 and 469-385-5260.
- World Wide Commerce Associates (WCA): This number calls and suggests you have one $2600 travel dollars toward a trip to Cancun for participating in “last week’s average American online survey”. According to their website, WCA operates a subscription-based program that “rewards consumers for consenting to receive recorded messages that include special product offers and purchase incentives”. The number most frequently associated with this company is 314-627-6914.
How do you deal with call and SMS Spam?