Have you ever gotten a call and answered, but there was no one there? Well, the truth is, there probably was someone there, a robot. Scammers can set up computer systems to dial your number to detect if a human answers. Once you answer, the computer will mark you down as a human and therefore a potential person to steal from. What does this robot steal? Your bank information and, ultimately, your identity.
Robocalls are an epidemic that citizens constantly complain about to the Federal Trade Commission. But these silent robocalls are only the beginning of a long string of calls you will soon receive if you are the target of identify theft via telephone. Here’s the additional robotic messages you should look out for.
If you hear, “we’re attempting to reach you about your credit/debit card,” hang up! Just like the events acted out comedically in the film Identity Theft, starring Melissa McCarthy, this is how thieves get all of you information. Next, you’ll begin to receive phone calls asking you to call back a “1-877” number. These numbers are set up so that only you can call and if you contact the police to check out the number, a message will state that the number was disconnected. This is why phone-based identity thieves and other frauds are so hard to track down. The situation reaches its most serious point, however, when you are contacted by actual human beings.
Because it is very unlikely for your bank to call to verify your address or your bank account balance, calls like this should always appear as red flags. In a recent interview with NPR, one security expert, Vijay Balasubramaniyan of Pindrop Security, reveals a range of different phone scam scenarios that you may have never thought of. One of the biggest scams he recalls, is the 2014 scam in which callers pretended to be IRS calling about tax returns.
Overall, Pindrop Security estimates that 1 in 2,200 calls is a fraudulent call. The usual targets of phone frauds are those who have the tendency to give up personal information freely. This includes online, and even giving your phone number at the checkout desk when you are shopping. Because robocalls are becoming so common, the Federal Trade Commission has compiled a list of suspicious robo-messages to look out for.
- You’ve been specially selected (for this offer)
- You’ll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
- You’ve won one of five valuable prizes.
- You’ve won big money in a foreign lottery.
- This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else.
- You have to make up your mind right away.
- You trust me, right?
- You don’t need to check our company with anyone.
- We’ll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card
According to the experts, the best way to handle phone fraud is not to say anything and when you realize it’s fraud, hang up.
[Image via Shuttershock]