In a week that began with an announcement of the first case of widespread phone bill billing fraud, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued another warning of an uptick in phone bill scams.
In a blog post today, the agency said that the average annual number of phone bills fraud cases has risen to 6,814 in the past year, compared to 2,072 the previous year.
In a separate blog post, the SEC said that it has identified 3,835 suspicious activity reports and over a dozen phone bills scams that have involved at least one phone bill, according to The Wall Street Journal.
These scam cases are becoming increasingly more difficult to detect and respond to, the report said, adding that the scammer will likely change their tactics and attempt to get the victims to open up their bank accounts or pay for their bills through an ATM.
While the SEC has previously warned about the growing risk of fraud, it did not identify specific instances in which it had reported a call or email scam involving phone bills.
“The threat of phone bill theft is a real and present danger to consumers, but we are not in a position to identify every phone scam or every fraud case,” the SEC wrote.
“The public should remain vigilant, and we encourage consumers to check the companies’ websites for any suspicious activity and to report suspicious activity to their bank, credit card company, or other financial institution.
This can help us determine if there is an underlying fraud problem.”
In March, The Wall Journal reported that the SEC had received reports of fraud that involved at or near 100 million debit and credit cards, more than double the number of fraudulent charges reported in the first quarter of 2017.
The agency has also been working to increase the number and sophistication of its investigations into phone bill scam cases.
Last month, the regulator said that its investigators had found an additional 1,900 fraudulent charges and at least 1,500 fraudulent emails sent to at least 4,500 people between January and April.
In the last two months, the FTC has taken action against more than 2,600 phone bill scammers, and more than 300 of those scammers have been removed from the market.