How AI Can Win The Fight Against Phone Spam and Fraud

It’s not your imagination: Spam, scam, and fraud calls are getting worse. They’re up 30% so far in 2022, according to our latest testing.

This is a huge problem for organizations and individuals alike, since spam and scam calls erode the hard-earned trust between legitimate businesses and their customers. A staggering 38% of people say they never answer an unidentified call, according to our data – they simply don’t trust them.

That’s a huge problem for mobile carriers. People still overwhelmingly prefer voice interaction – nothing can replace the speed, reliability, and personal touch of a phone call. But when subscribers can’t sort through the noise created by so many unwanted calls, they stop picking up the relevant calls they actually want.

Spammers and scammers are becoming more sophisticated, too. These groups operate like other successful businesses, constantly developing and testing new means of targeting their victims and eluding detection. For example, neighborhood spoofing – which is when scammers hijack local phone numbers with similar digits as their target  – has given way to in-state spoofing where scammers use other area codes that are still local to look like trustworthy callers.

This is just one example of how scammers are riding the personalization trend and refine their targeting of individuals based on demographic information and other attributes. Just as many genuine businesses are personalizing customer experiences, bad actors think carefully about how to gain the trust and attention of their victims, tailoring spam and fraud campaigns to specific audiences for maximum success. Other examples include immigration scams deployed to specific area codes or Social Security and Medicare scams targeting older subscribers.

Most call protection solutions today aren’t equipped to keep up with these increasingly advanced tactics. They’ve traditionally focused on phone numbers' reputation and behavior history as the primary signal. With existing call protection solutions, carriers ultimately have to choose between one of two undesirable scenarios: Either give up on flagging advanced tactics and allow unwanted calls through, or take a super-restrictive approach that inevitably will flag genuine, wanted calls.

That’s not good enough, and it’s eroding trust in phone calls. Fortunately, there’s a powerful new tool in this fight: AI. Scammers already use AI – it’s a key part of their growing sophistication and how they evade stale defenses that only analyze phone numbers. You need to fight AI with AI.

This is why we recently launched Personal AI as part of Hiya Protect, our complete spam and fraud solution. Hiya Protect with Personal AI is the first and only personalized AI-based call protection offering on the market. It builds on Hiya’s AI technology with a robust, holistic layer that analyzes the characteristics and relationships of calls – not just the numbers – stopping spam and scams while ensuring that wanted calls can connect.

This is what has been missing from call protection solutions: Context. What’s spam for one person is not necessarily spam for another, and by taking a more personalized approach to analysis and protection, we improve accuracy and stay out of the way of real relationships.

Personal AI is one part of how Hiya Protect understands the context of a call, and it builds our continually improving, AI-based spam protection engine.

We’re bringing the same level of personalized protection long offered by email spam filters and credit card fraud monitoring to voice calls for the first time. With Personal AI, Hiya Protect goes far beyond just the phone number to understand which calls are important to each subscriber, including attributes like time of day and call duration. If the caller and subscriber have a real relationship, the call doesn’t get flagged.

It also offers much more dynamic protection against increasingly targeted and sophisticated threats. Personal AI tracks and detects spam and scam campaigns running in specific regions or locations, for example, or that target high-risk demographics. AI also helps us detect local number spoofing.

This solves the trade-off that other protection programs cannot: Personal AI’s contextual awareness enables Hiya Protect to be extremely aggressive in flagging fraud and nuisance calls without worrying about hindering wanted calls and connections in the process.

This has never existed for voice calls the way it has for email spam and other types of unwanted or unauthorized activity. The industry has always focused solely on preventing unwanted calls. Personal AI enables us – for the first time ever – to not only prevent spam and fraud but also understand which calls are valuable to subscribers so that they can stay connected.

Scammers already use AI and other advanced technologies. Carriers must embrace AI to regain the advantage in the fight against spam and fraud – and to restore trust to our most important communications channel.

Jonathan Nelson bio:
As Director of Product Management at Hiya, Jonathan leads Hiya's caller ID data intelligence, including both person/business identification and spam call detection. His team works with billions of data points globally every day to provide the most accurate caller information and protection against unwanted caller adversaries.


The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.