This is why you shouldn't respond to voicemails from unknown callers

(Image credit: Shutterstock / ImYanis)

Although most people know to be on the lookout for phone calls from unknown numbers, the caller identification company Hiya has identified a new scam call tactic that uses voicemail as a lure to get potential victims to call back.

Dubbed the ‘Eavesdropping Scam’, this new tactic used by scammers begins with vague voicemail messages left on a victim’s smartphone where an unknown voice is heard talking about them to another person.

If the curiosity of a potential victim is piqued by someone in a voicemail claiming “I’m trying to get a hold of them right now” and decides to call back, the scammers on the other end of the line then try to steal their personal information or money by offering fraudulent tax relief services.

The reason the Eavesdropping Scam is so effective is because it avoids most call protection services since it doesn’t feature any of the typical scam call markers. The vague nature of the voicemail and the fact that it doesn’t include any common fraud-related keywords means that this scam is able to reach more potential victims but thankfully Hiya was able to step in and stop it using the company’s Adaptive AI.

Thwarting the Eavesdropping Scam

Although the Eavesdropping Scam may be able to evade detection from other call protection services, Hiya’s Adaptive AI allowed the company to flag over 90 percent of these calls from the beginning.

The company’s Real-Time Intelligence Service enables its Adaptive AI to detect new scams based on their tactics, even on the very first call. Phone numbers making the Eavesdropping Scam call were flagged in less than 12 call attempts on average and after successfully detecting and flagging these calls, Hiya worked with a third-party service provider to shut down the initial operation in 24 hours.

The company's call protection service also leverages the STIR/SHAKEN protocol to strengthen its ability to go beyond spoofed calls and also detect scam calls. However, the protocol continues to show its limits in the highly-dynamic, ever-changing scam call ecosystem which is why Hiya uses other signals as well.

Hiya CEO Alex Algard provided further insight in a press release on how the company’s Adaptive AI was able to make short work of the Eavesdropping Scam, saying

“Catching this new and emerging scam tactic shows the power of Hiya’s Adaptive AI capabilities. Because our models are self-learning and focus on tactics, we can detect new scam risks in real-time and, in this case, shut down the operation before it reaches most users. At Hiya, our mission is to fully eradicate spam and fraud calls from the voice network, and the Eavesdropping Scam is the latest example of how we’re outsmarting scammers and protecting users.”

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.