Saturday, 10 January 2015

BEWARE! Phone Number Hacking/Phishing Scam Is Trending

A new and troubling scam has emerged in Central Texas, raising its ugly head first in Copperas Cove. It is, at the least, an annoying nuisance and potentially a financial bane to residents who become victimized.
To the perpetrator of this fraudulent deception, the goal is to use a hacked telephone number to telephonically seek out potential victims to scam, thereby concealing his or her true identity. In this manner, the criminal will be difficult, if not impossible to identify, locate and prosecute. All investigative roads will lead back to the victim’s telephone number.
In Copperas Cove, a victim of the telephone number hacking received a string of calls from irate people claiming they were conned by someone using that number.

This scheme takes on several forms, but all lead to the same goal: to commit fraud against the public and enrich the criminal.

How the scam works is inanely simple. The scammer will hack into or hijack your telephone number, making that number appear to be the number of origin in all transactions, illegal or otherwise, essentially committing fraud and theft from your telephone number.

Incoming calls to the hacked telephone number are recorded and identified by the criminal and used for more phishing scams. The identity of the incoming caller is recorded.

Some phishing schemes are so simple it makes one wonder about the intelligence of the victim. That being said, some scammers are so convincing that even the most intelligent among us fall prey to their well-thought-out and well-presented schemes.

A common scheme is to make recorded robotic calls from the hacked telephone number to multiple potential victims and identify themselves as “customer support, card services,” telling you that your credit card was inactivated. In order to reactivate your card, the recording will direct you to enter the 16-digit number of your credit card, the expiration date, your ATM PIN number and CVV number on the back of your card, all followed by the “#” key subsequent to each entry. Once all information has been entered, you will be advised that your card has been reactivated and it is secure.

At that point, your card could not be less secure. It is in the hands of the scammer and will be used immediately for his or her wealth enhancement and to your financial disadvantage.

There is the potential here for the hacker to employ a wide variety of schemes to get you to part with money or information.

To the criminals, once your information has been obtained, speed is essential. Your card will be used before you realize you were scammed and have the opportunity to contact your credit card company.

There is little one can do to avoid being hacked, and the options for relief are few. The local police can do little more than advise you to change your telephone number.

There are, however, several things you can do to avoid being victimized by the originators of this scam and subsequent phishing expeditions:
  • Do not give out any information regarding your credit cards or banking accounts to anyone over the telephone.
  • Never agree to call another number or forward an incoming call from your home phone on behalf of someone unknown to you.
  • Don’t rely on caller ID as verification of the caller’s ID.
  • Be extremely wary of customer service calls that are based on numbers given you by others.
  • Never agree to anything over the telephone that involves making a payment or that entails joining any “free” service.
  • If given a business number to call, enter it into an internet search engine to see if what appears is the same information you were led to believe.
  • Never respond to a recorded message regarding finances or personal information.
  • No bank or credit card issuer will ever use text messages or emails to alert you to account problems. Alerts such as these will always be a scam.
  • Keep an eye on your credit card statements. If you observe any unauthorized charges, or suspect that your card may have been compromised, call the number listed on the back of your card for assistance or verification.
Cove Herald