NEW YORK — Get ready to block a whole bunch of bad numbers! A new study is revealing the most common scam phone numbers that experts say you should never answer. Many on this list try to bait Americans into all sorts of schemes, posing as everything from your bank to package delivery services.
Out of more than 150,000 suspicious phone numbers reported by users over the last two years, researchers with BeenVerified cut that list down to 12 scammers and spammers who constantly call Americans. The team also categorized them by the specific tactics they used to trick people who answered the phone.
Nine of the 12 fall into the category of a “text scam message,” meaning these numbers send a text to cell phone users, trying to get them to click on a suspicious link or call another number. The bait typically involves some urgent message that gets the victim to fear that something has gone wrong.
Four of the 12 popular scam numbers involved “business imposter cons.” These numbers pretend to be your bank or credit card company, possibly to gain access to your accounts.
“Call companies directly to check fraud claims. Do not use links or phone numbers provided. Instead, check your card or account for the authorized fraud prevention number,” writes BeenVerified’s Kevin Voigt in a statement.
Three of the 12 top scam numbers involved “delivery scams.” These schemes pretend to notify victims about a supposed package from companies like DHL or FedEx in order to get people to click a suspicious link. BeenVerified notes that these schemes skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two other numbers try to trick people by telling them they’ve won a prize. While it sounds enticing, experts warn that it’s all a lie.
The top 12 numbers on BeenVerified.com’s list received the most comments on the site’s Scam Call Monitor, with almost all of them complaining that they were suspicious. Out of the 150,000 numbers cited, the top 12 all had between 100 and 200 complaints from Americans.
Top 12 Scam Phone Numbers You Should Never Answer:
1. (865) 630-4266 — Notice-Account [WellsFargo] Reach us NOW
This text message warns victims that their Wells Fargo account has been temporarily locked and they should call right away.
2. (469) 709-7630 — We have a failed delivery attempt for XXX.
Users reported either they or a loved one were mentioned by name for a failed delivery attempt. Another user reported, “When I called to see who they were, I was asked to enter only the last two digits of my SSN for verification. I hung up.”
3. (805) 637-7243 — You won Publisher’s Clearing House!
“It appears that scammers may use the same number for a variety of scams. Users of our reverse phone number tool reported this number was used for scam callers claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House, as well as representatives from Visa’s fraud department. Still more users reported this number for calls claiming that an unpaid bill may result in a freezing of their assets,” BeenVerified reports.
4. (858) 605-9622 — Bank Account temporarily ON HOLD! Call now
Users reported this text-based scam from this number that namechecks a variety of brand name banks such as PNC, Chase, and Wells Fargo. The scam text reads: (Bank name): ACCNT #5674 temporarily ON HOLD! Your security is our priority. Call now: (858) 605-9622 (Do Not Disregard!)
5. (863) 532-7969 — Debit Card Frozen Call Immediately
Another bank-related scam, this time without using any bank name because it’s so common for people to at least have a debit card.
6. (904) 495-2559 — AT&T Free Msg: Congrats to 2 lucky users!
Lottery and prize scams are among the most commonly reported. One person reported receiving this message: “ATT Free Msg: Congrats to 2 lucky users! Today’s winners of our raffle are: Tim N***** and you, (Name)! Claim now: j2kmz.info/XXXXX (904) 495-2559”
7. (312) 339-1227 — Lose weight! – or – Track your parcel
Again, spammers appear to recycle the same phone numbers for different scams. Americans reported seeing this number either touting a weight-loss product or acting as a delivery scam.
8. (917) 540-7996 — Is that Ghostface on the line? No, it’s a “Scream VI” spam call
In March of 2023, dozens of users reported receiving a creepy voice message from this number: “Is this (my name)? Oh good! I’m happy I finally get to speak to you (my name). We’ve never met, not officially, but I feel life [sic] I already know you. It’s funny how you can see someone’s true character when they are alone. Or at least when they think they’re alone. I have one question for you, (my name). Guess where I’m hiding?”
It turns out this was actually a marketing campaign for the movie “Scream VI.” BeenVerified reports that marketers released an app that allowed users to input a phone number to have Ghostface call.
9. (347) 437-1689 — Small-dollar tax scam and a Dyson vacuum
Fraudsters often bait victims with bogus claims of big-ticket purchases on their accounts. In this new variation, scammers claim instead only a small amount of unpaid taxes are owed to lure victims into clicking links. This number also sent fake texts about Dyson vacuums to try to ensnare victims.
10. (301) 307-4601 — U.S-Post: Your package is on hold for address issue
Another delivery scam. This one claims to be from the US Postal Service and sends users an allegedly bogus text with a link to click.
11. Call (878) 877-1402 Now! 994# Card-Locked Alert
Similar to the “Debit Card Frozen” scam phone number, this text message personalized the message by adding the victim’s phone number. Users reported seeing “Call 878-877-1402 Now ! 994# Card-Locked Alert Account-ID: then my phone number.”
12. (202) 221-7923 — Student loan forgiveness deadline coming. Call Kelsey
“Scammers follow the news and tailor their scams accordingly. As student-loan debt forgiveness has been a hot topic in recent years, scammers are making false claims about nonexistent deadlines,” BeenVerified warns. “Dozens of users reported getting phone messages from a “Kelsey Adams” about a fast-approaching deadline for student-loan forgiveness and the need to act—or else.”
BeenVerified analyzed 157,703 call complaints logged on a free reverse phone lookup tool owned and operated by BeenVerified for the period of July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2023. Some user comments in the study were lightly edited for clarity.