Phone Call

Almost half — 45% — of consumers have received a call from someone impersonating a business and thus causing reputational harm, according to a survey from Hiya, a company that helps businesses communicate with the public.

This type of fraud poses a real threat to businesses, which already struggle to reach consumers legitimately by phone, according to the company’s “State of the Call 2024” report. It also found that seven in 10 businesses themselves are the target of inbound call attacks annually.

Voice remains the preferred channel for the most personal and important communications, despite the accompanying problems. The report reveals that the phone channel ranges from important to essential to 85% of surveyed business respondents. The feedback from consumers is that voice calls are preferred over channels such as email when sensitive data is at stake.

The survey’s results were not encouraging. Hiya found that 28% of the 46.75 billion unknown calls it processed last year were flagged as suspected spam and fraud. Almost 60% of consumers reported that phone spam has increased during the past year and some say there is no communications channel that they trust.

Hiya said that while the percentage of customers who lost money via phone fraud last year was less than in 2022, the cost to those who were defrauded jumped. The average lost by those scammed in 2022 was $360. That number shot up to $2,257 in 2023, an increase of 527%.

The survey also found that 16% of consumer respondents lost money to a phone scam during the past year.

The answer to the challenge of spam and phone fraud is reestablishing trust through identity, the report claims. The survey found that 77% of consumers are more likely to pick up a call if they know the source of the call.

The survey by Hiya had significant input. More than 1,800 business workers, more than 12,000 consumers, and more than 600 IT and security insiders participated. The company said more than 221 billion calls were analyzed.

AI-generated voice calls that can effectively mimic voices, including family members, are a looming challenge. In February, the FCC announced a Declaratory Ruling that deemed AI-generated voices “artificial” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  This makes voice-cloning technology used in common robocall scams targeting consumers illegal.

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