Fake tech support calls aren’t new. They’ve been a favorite tactic for scammers for almost as long as there have been devices to support. But lately there is a new twist catching consumers by surprise — prerecorded calls claiming charges are pending for services that were never requested. Or, a robot message offering an urgent refund before the company “goes out of business.”
Without a live person on the other end of the phone, the fraudsters are relying on unsuspecting individuals to call THEM back, so they can trick victims into sharing credit card numbers, bank account details, and other personal credentials to confirm their identity and clear up the obvious confusion. According to the recent FTC Consumer Sentinel Report, imposter and telephone services scams are the top two reported fraud complaints of 2018. Altogether, individuals have lost a total sum of over $500 million!
Here is an example of a robot voicemail received by a colleague, urgently requesting a call back to claim a refund because the company is going out of business soon:
No matter their story, these companies are not distributing refunds for services you haven’t received, nor charging you for technical support you haven’t requested. They are attempting to steal your payment information and your identity.
Are Scammers Really Still Calling?
As long as we are connected to our phones, fraudsters will continue to rely on old-fashioned phone scams (vishing) to con unsuspecting victims into sharing their Personally Identifiable Information (PII), credit card and bank account numbers, health care information, or any other type of data that can be used to execute identity fraud. Phone number or Caller ID spoofing — where the caller presents a false name or number on your caller ID — and robocalling have made phone scams abundant, sophisticated, and difficult to detect. Once an individual gives out their PII or financial information to claim a refund or dispute a pending charge, the scammer has access to all the details they need to commit identity crime.
Just Hang Up!
As convincing as these fraudulent calls sound, don’t be tempted to call the scammer back. If you find a real person on the other end of the line, it’s best to hang up immediately and avoid sharing any personal information. Do not allow the caller to remotely access your devices to “verify” any details, as this will enable the criminal to further access to your credentials and sensitive documents. If you do give over your personal information before realizing it’s a bogus call, quickly file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as evidence of your scam. If you gave a tech support scammer your credit card information, you might be able to stop or reverse the fraudulent transaction. If the FTC takes legal action against the scammers, there may be an opportunity to get a portion of your money back as well.
The simple way to ensure your identity is protected after becoming a victim of a scam is to protect yourself and your family with the best in class identity theft protection.
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