Top 10 Phone Scams Revealed
With all the ongoing talk of ransomware and the continued rise of cybercrime we may forget that phone scams continue to run rampant. I (Paul) have recently been the subject of one of the IRS phone scams letting me know a lawsuit was being filed against me and I would soon be going to jail! Thankfully I am aware of these scams so I know what they are, but these scams continue to proliferate and extort and steal money from unknowing victims. Here is an excerpt from an IRS post about these scams:
This January, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced they have received reports of roughly 896,000 contacts since October 2013 and have become aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam.
"The IRS continues working to warn taxpayers about phone scams and other schemes," Koskinen said. "We especially want to thank the law-enforcement community, tax professionals, consumer advocates, the states, other government agencies and particularly the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for helping us in this battle against these persistent phone scams."
Recently pindrop labs released their top 10 phone scams of the first half of 2016. Here are some interesting excerpts from a recent article at KnowBe4.com.
“A bigger problem with these consumer phone scams is that often they are just the first step in a larger attack. Scammers are looking for more than quick money from a consumer,” Pindrop warned. They are also phishing for personal information in order to steal an identity and enable an account-takeover attack at a financial institution, retailer, insurance provider, or other organization. “Businesses must be aware of the role that consumer fraud plays in the larger threat landscape.”
Pindrop also found that 30,000 of the total calls studied were robocalls.
Robocalls, which involve a recorded message instead of a live person, are legal. However, if the recording is a sales message and the call recipient has not given written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal and many times part of a con.
Critical tips to keep yourself safe:
First make sure you have registered all of your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. Once registered, be especially wary of any unwanted calls as they are most likely from fraudsters breaking the law. You can also use the website to submit a complaint if you've received an unwanted call after being registered for 31 days.
DO NOT WIRE MONEY! In November of 2015 the FTC banned wire transfers as a payment method over the phone. If someone asks you to do this, they are definitely a scam artist.
Don't interact. Don't answer your phone if you don't recognize the number. If you do happen to pick up do not follow the prompts, don't enter anything on your keypad and don't request to be removed. A lot of times they will leave a voicemail and it's pretty easy to tell which ones are scams.
Consider using a call-blocking app. They are designed to check incoming calls against databases of known scam numbers. You can also manually block numbers when you know it's from an illegal robocaller.
If one of the scams involves personal information and you think it could be legitimate, you still should not interact with the caller. Ask to call them back, if they say you can't it's most likely a fraud attempt. Get a case number and look up the phone number for the organization yourself.