Have you received a call from someone with a high-pitched voice named Elizabeth? If you haven’t then you may just be the only person in the United States who hasn’t! Phone scams have come a long way from a live caller coaxing information out of an unknowing target at the end of the line. Today, phone scams are not done person to person, but call center to person, automated voice to person and auto-dialer to person. The goal, however, remains the same: to pry personal information out of unwitting targets for financial gain.
Below are some common-sense tips to avoid current phone scams.
Don’t Recognize the Number, Don’t Answer
This is easier said than done. When the number appears local and a child is away from the home (e.g. school, friend’s house, playing outside) it feels irresponsible to just let the call go to voicemail. Scam artists know this and use software that displays fake phone numbers that look local to get you to answer the call. Don’t play into it.
If the call is legitimate, the caller will leave a message. If they do leave a message and leave a return number, double check the number to ensure it’s legitimate. For example, if the message is from a representative from a bank, credit card or other organization you have an account with, compare the number with the corporate website or even on the back of the account card, then call one of those legitimate numbers to inquire further.
Report Annoying Hang Ups
Some criminals will program auto-dialers to call a number, let it ring once, then hang up, over and over again. If this happens, do not call the number back in annoyance, report it , especially if the number starts with an unknown area code like 268,664,876. These are area codes from Caribbean nations or other places with high calling rates.
Beware of Smishing Texts
This funny sounding term is no laughing matter. Smishing texts are similar to phishing email scams. They are sneaky, just like phishing, however they use SMS (the technology behind text messaging) and appear to look like a legitimate text message from a trusted source. We tend to think if someone is texting us, then we know them, right? This is not the case anymore, so beware of texts from senders that sound extremely urgent and require immediate action (e.g. call a provided call back number or click on a provided link).
The important thing is not to act via the text message. If it looks/reads like a possible scam, then it probably is a scam. If the number is not known, ignore it and delete the text message. However, cyber criminals have gotten more clever and sometimes the text messages appears to be from someone you “know”.
If sounds like it could be from a known source (e.g. bank, credit card, family member or acquaintance), inquire further by calling back with a trusted contact number:
- 800# on the back of the bank/credit card
- Number listed on the official company website
- Calling the phone number saved in your personal address book
Overall, remember calls AND texts are vehicles for criminal activity, so be wary and trust your gut instinct if the message is “out of the ordinary”. Criminals have no shame when it comes to getting what they want. If something sounds “too good to be true” or requires immediate action “right this minute”, the warning bells and sirens should begin to ring loud and clear! The best course of action is to delete and report.
Protect Your Organization from Cyber Security Threats
Don’t be a victim of cybercrime! Contact the experts at SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc. for unique insight and training. SACS Consulting can provide cybersecurity services and Prevention Methods for Cybersecurity Threats training for your organization. Be proactive, by preventing cybercrime from impacting your organization. Contact or call us at 330-255-1101 to speak with one of our security or training professionals today.