Common Phone Scam Prevention

phone scams

Surely you’ve heard of the increasing threats of cyber criminals. Breaches are occurring so frequently now, it’s difficult to keep up. By now you’ve heard about the increasing threat of cyber criminals. Between trojan horses, phishing scams, malicious links in emails, and ransomware, it’s progressing in every IT field. With phone scams, the telephone category is no different.

You can’t trust the news: billion dollar companies are not the only one at risk. In fact, sometimes smaller companies have a higher risk of being targeted. most cyber criminals consider the small to midsize market a goldmine. This is the result of lower security protocols and focuses from the small to midsize business owner. The “It won’t happen to me” mentality is your worst enemy.

Business owners are getting savvier and more aware. In turn, cyber criminals are turning to other technologies such as phones, to attack your business.

We would like to share a few examples of different phone-based scams, along with tips on how to avoid them.

The “Can You Hear Me” Phone Scam:

These phone scams spread between business owners and consumers where a criminal will call you simply to get you to say “yes”. What happens is they record your voice and use this one simple word to unlawfully sign you up for services and approve purchases.
The Better Business Bureau even released an alert and warning to the public regarding this scam. They outline a few different tactics that scammers utilize to get the audio desired. Questions asked might include:

  • Are you the homeowner?
  • Are you over 18?
  • Do you pay the household bills?
  • Do you own a home computer?

Calls can come from several different sources, or at least claim to. Common ones include security companies, cruise lines or sometimes even from the government.

You may be wondering how you can possibly identify these scammers and protect yourself.

Some helpful tips to follow:

  • Don’t answer calls from numbers you do not recognize. You can always leave it for voicemail and if it’s truly that important, they will leave a message.
  • Never give out personally identifiable information over the phone if you aren’t sure of who is calling you and the purpose of the phone call.
  • If you believe you have fallen for a phone scam like this, reach out to your bank and credit card companies to flag your accounts. Check your account daily for any activity and be alert.

The “Vishing” Phone Scam:

“Vishing” is a play on the email technique “phishing”, which you are probably already aware of. This technique is quite similar to the email version where a scammer calls you and attempts to grab personal information by claiming they are from a reputable source or business you already engage with.

For example, have you ever gotten an email from your bank claiming that your account has been compromised? The email then prompts you to click a link and login to confirm your account details or restore credibility and looks something like this:

vishing phone scam email example

Criminals apply this same technique to the phone.

One of the most popular applications of this scam is connected to the IRS. Your phone rings and they even have the ability to make the caller ID read IRS or some government-related contact. When you pick up the phone you may hear a recording informing you that you are under investigation, or that the IRS has located discrepancies in your taxes. They may ask for specific information to confirm your identity before connecting you to an agent such as:

  • Social security information
  • Birth date
  • Address information
  • And more . . .

Again, there are a few ways you can spot these calls and prevent yourself from falling victim to these types of phone scams.

First, never call a phone number presented to you in an email or over the phone. If your bank calls you, call them back on their official number off their website or business card. The same applies to credit card companies or the IRS.

Second, credit card companies and government agencies typically refer to you by your full name. If you receive a call and the recording or person on the other line uses anything but your full name, proceed with caution.

Third, there is no reason any credit company or even the IRS would call you direct and request information like credit card numbers, routing numbers or social security information. If someone calls you and asks for this, hang up and call their official number (for credit/bank – call the number on the back of your card). If this was a legitimate call the official reps will have knowledge of it, otherwise report the call.

Remember these tips and it will dramatically increase your chances of remaining safe. Feel free to reach our team if you have any questions.

Also – check out this database provided by the BBB where you can track local and national scam trends to stay alert and prepared. After all, the best defense is continued education when it comes to cybercrime and phone scams.