The Only iOS Phone Protection You’ll Ever Need

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Today, we are happy to announce the launch of Whitepages ID for iPhone. Whitepages ID brings similar spam protection and number lookup capabilities made famous in our award-winning Whitepages Caller ID app for Android to all iPhone users. The iOS platform has some limitations in delivering real-time caller ID, which required us to come up with some innovative workarounds, but the end result is an easy-to-use app that lets you look up missed calls and block spam.

If you’re tired of spam and missed calls from unknown numbers, then give Whitepages ID a try. Here’s a rundown of the key features the app has for iOS:

Real-Time Spam Detection

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Get notified as the call is coming in if it is from a known spammer or scammer. We do this by populating your address book with a contact that we assign to the top spam/scam numbers. We update that list as frequently as every few hours in order to bring you and your iPhone the most up-to-date information on spam and scam numbers.

Fast Reverse Phone Lookup
Reverse Phone Lookup

Copy numbers from your recent call log and open Whitepages ID to quickly know who called you. Just copy a number and then open the app—you’ll be asked if you want to look up a number automatically. If you’re using iOS 8, you can look up numbers even faster with the widget. To install the widget, pull down your Notification Center and scroll to the bottom of the “Today” tab. You can install new widgets from the bottom of that screen. Widget search allows you to search for numbers without even opening the app.

Spam-Check Dialer

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Use the spam-check dialer to dial unknown numbers and be confident that you’re not calling a spammer or a scammer. If there’s no spam detected, the call goes through automatically. But if it is a known spam number, Whitepages ID will ask if you want to continue the call.

Blacklist Individual Numbers

Create a personal blacklist of phone numbers that you don’t want to pick up. It’s an easy way to avoid ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends or anyone else you don’t want to talk to.

Report Scam

Help other users in the community by reporting spam. Whitepages ID detects spam with the help of millions of users who report unwanted calls as they receive them. Plus, it just feels good to report a spammer or a scammer.

We are very excited to bring our services and spam protection features to iPhone users. If you’re ready to ditch spam and scam then download the app! It’s free, it’s helpful and it’s incredibly easy to use.

 

Tax Scam Mastermind Busted After Swindling More Than a Million Dollars

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The organizer of a massive phone fraud operation won’t lead another effort anytime soon. One of the biggest IRS scams – wherein fraudsters tried to convince targets they owed the tax-collection authority money and had to pay immediately – no longer has its head in place. While the arrest doesn’t mean a total elimination of such threats, it’s a major strike against one of the most successful of these scams.

The ringleader of the international scam’s U.S. side of operations, Sahil Patel, received a 15-year sentence, according to CNN. The final verdict from the judge came after a guilty plea entered in January. Barring an early release, Patel will remain in prison until 2030, at which point he will enter a supervised release program for three years. Beyond the jail time, Patel also had to forfeit $1 million to the U.S. government, losing most of the $1.2 million the phone fraud operation brought in. According to The Associated Press, Patel was charged with wire fraud among other infractions.

How the scam worked

The international operation relied on call centers in India, where English-speaking scammers tried to convince U.S. residents they owed the IRS money and were significantly in arrears. They used generally aggressive tones and language, along with threats of additional penalties and jail time. The fraudulent callers would instruct anyone thus tricked to purchase pre-paid debit cards to use for settling the debt, obscuring the source and destination of those payments while avoiding common debit and credit card protections like chargebacks and bank interventions.

Avoiding the fraudsters

Despite the many people who didn’t go along with the scam, the operation netted more than a million dollars during approximately two years of operation. With an average loss of $5,000 to $7,000 per successful call, it’s easy to see that many people were confused, frightened, bullied or otherwise convinced to pay into the scam, according to The AP. CNN reported the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s office has logged more than 600,000 such calls through July 6 in 2015.

The last thing anyone wants is to deal with malicious, fraudulent calls like these, especially when repeated calls and high-pressure, blatantly illegal tactics are brought to bear. At Whitepages, we’re dedicated to developing a better, safer and more enjoyable environment for your phone. Our Caller ID app, available for Android devices, lets you decide which calls to take and which to ignore. With identity verification measures in place, you’re better able to protect yourself from fraudulent and malicious incoming calls. Reliable Caller ID gives you the power to choose if and when to answer, creating a more enjoyable experience with your phone. With so many phone scams in operation – along with legitimate but potentially unwanted calls from telemarketers a common occurrence – a comprehensive tool to streamline and secure your smartphone experience is a must.

What Happens When You’re on the DNC List and You Get a Call?

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The National Do Not Call Registry may not be perfect, but it offers some serious protection for the many Americans who have signed up. Originally developed as a temporary measure to prevent telemarketers from calling home phones, various improvements to the laws during the late 2000s supporting the Do Not Call Registry have pushed it to permanent status. Additionally, the last series of revisions to those laws caused a major drop in the time window from signup to protection, moving from 90 days to 31. Along with other laws related to barring or severely limiting the use of autodialers and other nefarious telemarketer tactics, people in the U.S. are relatively well off when it comes to getting protection from unwanted calls.

How can you sign up?

Without going into too much detail, signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry is easy. To ease the process of signing up, we already have an informative, step-by-step blog post about both signing up for the DNC list and augmenting its protections with the power of Whitepages. With that info in mind, let’s dive into the question behind this post: What happens when you’re on the DNC list and you get a call from a telemarketer or other unwanted commercial source?

The DNC list works!

Do you know what you can and can’t do if it turns out a telemarketer or scammer is violating the list and calling your number? The Federal Trade Commission spells out the process in plain language on its website. If you’ve been a recent victim of an unsolicited call, here is a quick rundown of what you need to know:

  • Any unsolicited commercial call – which means exceptions for surveys, nonprofit solicitations, political campaigns and debt collectors – received after your number has been on the DNC list for 31 days is grounds for a complaint. You can follow this link to the FTC’s complaint page and click the green “continue” button.
  • Even if you haven’t signed up, or if you haven’t yet been on the list for 31 days, you can report commercial calls made with a recording instead of a live person. These calls are often from scam artists, so you shouldn’t have to waste your time answering and hanging up on what is likely not a legitimate call.

What happens with successful complaints? 

The FTC maintains a database of press releases about major scams and violations brought to light by individuals filing complaints. Some of the most recent headlines include large judgments against legitimate companies that break the rules, as well as against businesses that are nothing more than fraudsters and schemers. These investigations all started because of complaints filed by individuals and led to serious consequences for organizations that broke the FTC’s clearly defined rules.

If you use the DNC list along with our Caller ID Android app, you’ll have even greater protection. Automated spam alerts tell you when an unfamiliar number has a high potential for fraud, squashing the possibility for calls from less-scrupulous organizations that ignore the DNC list.

Phone Scams You Need to Look Out For

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The world around us changes constantly and so do our efforts in protecting users from unwanted calls and text messages. Cyber criminals are constantly looking for new ways to make money and phone calls and text messages have become their new weapon of choice. Phone scammers have more tools now than just 10 years ago; calls cost almost nothing from anywhere in the world. Smartphones have replaced your home computer. Information is stored online.

In a world where everything is connected and just a tap way, fraudsters aren’t limited to tricking people into revealing personal information live on the phone anymore. They can use text messages that link to a phishing website, a tactic called smishing, Phishing websites are often impersonating banks and designed to look exactly like the actual sites of your financial institutions. Fraudsters know that on a small screen like your smartphone it is even harder to judge whether a site is legit or fraudulent. Below is an example of what you might see on a phishing website.
Smishing-Image

Some of the most recent attacks on individuals seen in the past few weeks centered around smishing campaigns against Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Discover Card clients. We also saw phishing campaigns targeting Visa card holders from a variety of financial institutions. These smishing campaigns targeted the largest, most trustworthy banks to leverage that trust against individuals. They also cast a wide and indiscriminate net, which is why some people get bogus notifications about the activation of cards from a bank they don’t use, as seen in the image below.
smishing-two

The phishing campaigns on Visa cards were a little less sophisticated, using more traditional means to access valuable personal and financial information. What’s notable about those attacks is the total scope. Targets included a variety of U.S. bank customers as well as Bank of Montreal, TD Bank and Scotiabank Visa cardholders in Canada as well as HSBC clients overseas.
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Text messages are just one of many new ways fraudsters contact their victims. The growth in regular phone scams shows no signs of stopping. At Whitepages we not only track numbers by spam levels but also by type of phone scams they are involved in. There were for example 1,300 individual numbers involved in IRS phone scams in the month of May. Scammers use many different approaches and they aren’t just limited to banking and credit cards – however one thing is sure: they are after your money and personal information.

What you can do to protect yourself?

So, if scammers have all of these new and potentially dangerous tools and the pace of these fraud campaigns isn’t slowing down, what’s the good news? Individuals have powerful protections they can use, too. The efforts of our Phone Reputation team and the addition of NumberCop’s technology to Whitepages’ existing resources means we’re focusing even more on keeping individuals safe from dangerous scams and frauds. Specifically, we’re focusing on tracking threat patterns and themes to better identify and forecast rising threats, giving you a very high level of protection.

How can you stop the influx of potentially dangerous scams and phishing attempts?

Whitepages Caller ID app for Android doesn’t just tell you who’s calling or texting and if that contact is likely a spammer, it also includes call blocking and reporting features that maximize privacy and help keep scam artists from reaching others. Our fraud prevention efforts extend to Whitepages Reverse Phone Lookup, where you can type in an unrecognized number and see reports of suspicious activity.

What Does FCC Decision Mean for Annoying Robocalls?

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We all hate intrusive, unwanted calls, especially annoying robocalls, right? But is it really possible to avoid them? You may have seen the news from the FCC that customers can now ask carriers to block illegal robocalls and spam messages for them. Read on as we break down the ruling and offer some suggestions about how you can protect yourself from those unwanted calls.

Now You Can Block Those Annoying Robocalls

The FCC decision essentially said that customers can ask their phone carrier to block illegal robocalls and spam texts for them and that the carriers are legally able to do so. This sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, If you still have a landline phone hanging on the wall in your kitchen, you’ll get a big benefit from the FCC decision to approve robocall blocking. Now you can request that your phone carrier block all calls that start from an automatic dialier (or robodialer). But since many people have already moved away from landlines and exclusively use mobile phones and for them it is largely a no-news event. With caller ID apps like Whitepages Caller ID, mobile users already have the opportunity to identify and block unwanted calls and text. 

But What About Other Nuisance Calls?

So for those of you landline users who are happy to have robocalls blocked, don’t expect to now be rid of all unwanted calls. Robocalls are just one of many types of unwanted calls. Many nuisance calls are not from automated dialers at all, the IRS scam and Microsoft Tech Support scam are great examples. By enabling users to only block robocalls, the decision doesn’t go far enough to protect consumers from unwanted calls or from high risk calls that are not automated.

This Means Robocalls Will Stop, Right? Not Exactly.

Part of the FCC ruling opens up the opportunity for banks and health care providers to alert consumers to possible fraud. This is a move in the right direction for consumer protection since banking fraud and health care fraud are two of the most largely seen areas of phone and SMS scams. But expanding robocalling opportunities to these two industries introduces the opportunity for more fraudulent activities. Where previously, consumers knew that all unsolicited contact from their bank or health care provider was suspicious, now it will be harder to tell real alerts from scams. With an app like Whitepages Caller ID, you can scrutinize contacts from banks or your health care provider very closely.

Is the image below really a text from your bank or is it fraud?

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The opportunity to block unwanted calls is a great bonus for those of you trying to avoid nuisance calls and protect yourselves from spam. But you don’t want to miss calls that you actually want to receive. You’ve got to trust that the data is accurate. The Whitepages Phone Reputation Service evaluates over 2.5 billion calls and identifies over 20 million spam calls and texts every month. This volume combined with years of experience building our phone spam detection algorithms brings a high level of accuracy to our data. Download Whitepages Caller ID for Android and protect yourself from unwanted calls now.