Phone scams are getting more sophisticated and consumers are paying the price. Where some scams are laughable and obvious, there are other more devious scams like scammers using ID spoofing software to steel people’s money without them being any wiser. These malicious callers are using legitimate companies or corporations to trick consumers into providing sensitive data. They even go so far as to pay over money for what they think are their overdue accounts and bills. Your best form of defense is to be aware of these scams and warn your friends and family wherever possible to avoid them becoming the next victim.
DHS OIG Hotline Scam
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) hotline phone number is being used in one the latest scams. The scammer uses software to alter their number so that the caller ID shows a believable number. The scammer pretends to be an employee from the DHS and demands that the individual confirms their personal information such as, Social Security number, credit/debit card info, your date of birth, and bank account information. They do this through tactics such as claiming the person is a victim of identity theft. The scammers use this information to access your bank accounts and possibly, commit identity theft.
FBI Spoofing Scam
Scammers call, pretending to be FBI agents claiming that the person is under investigation for federal violations and crimes. They are told that they need to pay a fee right away or else they will be arrested. For an unsuspecting individual, the caller ID is confirmation enough that this call is legitimate however the FBI does not and will not call private citizens and demand money. If you feel unsure about the call, ask them to verify relevant information. You are entitled to request this so don’t be afraid to do so.
Can You Hear Me?
An individual will get a call from someone pretending to be a representative from an organization of a product or service that they are used to hearing from, therefore the phone call does not raise any red flags. This could be a utility company, a mortgage lender, a credit card company and even the bank. The person on the other end will ask “can you hear me?” and then record the consumers response saying yes. A voice signature is then created and used to authorize fraudulent transactions via the phone, such as unwanted charges on the victim’s utility or credit card. In order to avoid becoming a victim, put the phone down immediately if you receive this kind of call. Check with your bank immediately that there has been no suspicious activity taking place and request a statement to review.
Scammers use scare tactics with threats of calling the police should you not pay up immediately. They will quote information back to you that makes you believe you are in fact talking to the IRS and then coerce you into paying money you believe are back taxes or the like. They will even go so far as to list your previous tax payments, however do not give over your Social Security number unless you are aware of outstanding taxes, payments or arrangements with the IRS.
One Ring Calls
One ring calls are frustrating and leave you curious as to who called and didn’t get hold of you. You then call back, verifying that your number belongs to a real person but also that you are the type of person that returns calls from unknown numbers. Scammers will then call you back in future, knowing that you are susceptible to their tricks. The possibility of this call back may even cost you per minute to stay on the line.
Tech Support Calls
Scammers are calling random individuals and claiming to be from Microsoft, Apple or any another tech company saying that your computer is experiencing technical problems and that they can help. They will begin by giving you directions to go to your computer so that they can start their tricks. They tell you that they are monitoring your computer and there are signs of a virus. Instead, they install malware onto your device and later on, when you notice your computer lagging you assume the caller was correct as opposed to knowing that they in fact caused the problem. Other scams, pretending to be Apple support claim that your iCloud account has been hacked. Once they have you on the line, they ask for your personal information and log in credentials. They then have access to all your data stored on your devices.
Avoiding Phone Scams
- Do not answer calls from unknown or private numbers.
- Do not give over your personal information on the phone, unless you initiated the call yourself, to a verified service number.
- Be vigilant and never assume that an email, phone call, or text is legitimate. Scammers are spoofing phone numbers and email addresses to look real. Type in any link you receive into a search bar to confirm legitimacy.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel like something is suspicious, do not feel pressured into handing over your private information. Do not rush into giving your information over the phone. If you want to check the number and call back, do you research, call back and address the concern. No real service company will get frustrated with you as they are trained in customer service.
In a world where technology is developing at a rapid pace, it is important to keep your wits about you with your private information. Protect your private information and be inquiring when receiving calls from any unsolicited company. Be aware of trusting too easily and share this information with friends and family so they too can be aware.