Published on March 12th, 2019 | by Sunit Nandi0
3 Tips To Combat Sophisticated Phone Phishing Schemes
Phishing schemes have been around for what seems like eternity. In the 90s, they were mostly conducted over email. Today, they’re largely executed over the phone since everyone has a smartphone in their pocket.
Phishing schemes are usually obvious to tech-savvy people. However, modern phishing schemes have become more sophisticated and convincing. Here’s how to avoid getting caught up today’s phishing schemes:
1. Get a call back number no matter what the caller knows about you
Never trust a caller just because they can tell you what your social security number is. If an unknown and unexpected caller has your personal information, they might have obtained that information illegally. It’s not uncommon for scammers to raid garbage cans and recycle bins and even steal mail to get bits and pieces of data. For example, if you didn’t shred all of your debt documents, they might have your social security number, your debt account numbers, and your debt totals.
To avoid the possibility that you’re talking to a scammer, ask for a call back number. Do a quick search online to find out if the number they gave you is legitimate. For instance, search for the company’s information on the BBB’s website, Google business, or any other service that requires verification to be listed.
A real bill collector won’t have a problem giving you a call back number along with their personal extension. They also won’t have a problem sending you a paper statement in the mail detailing the debt they claim you owe. It’s against the law for them not to send you information regarding the details of your debt.
2. Don’t be fooled by callers that verify obscure information
A Fortune.com article describing how to avoid getting scammed reminds everyone that banks and credit card companies won’t ask for your pin number over the phone. They verify their identity to you by providing you with information. However, they won’t ask you for information other than your name. For instance, they won’t ask you to verify who you are by telling them your social security number.
Either way, it’s safest to ask for a call back number, hang up, research the number, and call the company directly.
3. Look up every unknown number you receive a call from
Whenever you get a call from an unknown number, look it up in Google. Even when the caller doesn’t ask for a payment or other information, they might be performing a preliminary phone call to extract details from you like your name, the names of other household members, and maybe even your daily schedule. They might plan to use this information at a later time to make their call more believable when they implement their scheme.
While Google’s Phonebook Search Operator has been retired, you can still perform a Google phone number lookup. Most numbers that are used in phishing schemes and other scams don’t get shut down right away, and reports of abuse build up over time. Running unknown numbers through Google will help you find those reports if they exist.
If you don’t find a scam associated with the number you enter into Google, it doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate call. It could be a new number or a new scam. Proceed with caution, and if you can’t verify a business through a trusted source (like the BBB), request snail mail correspondence.
4. Don’t believe what your caller ID says
Phishing scams have gotten so sophisticated that some people spoof the information appearing on caller ID. Caller ID information is unregulated, so it’s fairly easy to spoof. One such attack spoofs Apple’s name, official address, phone number, and logo. It’s the same information that appears when a person receives a genuine call from Apple support.
Caller ID spoofing is something the FCC is cracking down on hard. This crackdown is the result of intrusive and unwanted robocalls using caller ID spoofing to trick people into answering the phone. Unfortunately, fraudsters use this trick as well to get people to divulge sensitive information.
According to Nat Law Review, proposed amendments to the FCC’s Truth in Caller ID Act will make it “unlawful to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.”
5. Stay alert and stand your ground
Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by anyone who says you must make a payment over the phone immediately. Take the time to verify suspicious calls, and stand your ground when requesting correspondence through the mail. A legitimate business will understand your concerns and oblige.