'Vishing': Dialing for Dollars
Long before e-mail and phishing scams, criminals were using public telephone networks to trick people into giving away their financial and personal information. Last week, security experts spotted another sign that crooks are finding success in scams that marry new and old technologies.
Most phishing scams start with an e-mail that for one reason or another instructs recipients to "update" their account information by entering personal and financial data at a (counterfeit) Web site linked to in the message. An e-mail scam spotted last week by online security vendor WebSense and the folks at CastleCops directs recipients to dial an 800 number, where a recording requests that callers enter their bank account number using a touch-tone phone. You can read more about this scam here. WebSense also has recorded a .wav file of the message.
With the growth of VoIP and Internet-based telephony services that make it easier for callers to mask their identity and location (including caller ID spoofing services), I'd look for these types of scams to become even more prevalent.
Last month, I spoke with Lynn Goodendorf, vice president of privacy for InterContinental Hotels Group PLC. She told me about a scam that has apparently become quite common in the Atlanta area (and probably other U.S. cities) where crooks call someone and pretend to be from the local clerk of the court's office, asking why the person failed to respond to a jury summons. Ignoring a jury summons can result in a judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest, but in this scam the callers say the problem can probably be straightened out if the person provides his or her name, Social Security Number and other personal data.
"This scam works because it really throws people off balance or into a panic," Goodendorf said. Imagine the panic that sets in after you fork over your information to one of these low-lifes.
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