By Ken Kleinlein
An Englewood resident queried me about what scams to look out for in 2016. Englewood computer guru George Marriott (474−3177) (firstname.lastname@example.org) offered the following information:
David Dewey, director of research at Pindrop Security, a firm that provides anti-fraud detection technology for call centers and phone users, offers the latest trends in identity theft and phone fraud.
Uncle Sam Impersonators
2015 was the year of the IRS scam: Crooks impersonating the IRS and intimidating consumers into paying penalties for back taxes accounted for nearly a quarter of all scams reported to the Better Business Bureau. Expect worse in 2016.
Buried in the Congressional budget bill was a provision allowing debt collectors to use robocall technology to pursue anyone owing government debt. Until now, consumers were advised – correctly – that the government would never initiate contact by phone, and just this past June the Federal Communications Commission strengthened protections against debt collectors calling a cell phone to dun late-paying loan holders. In 2016, that will no longer be true.
We expect to see a spike in scams targeting overdue student loans, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae mortgage debt other than just taxes.
Tip: Don’t trust the number that shows up on your caller ID. If someone calls to collect money, tell the caller you want to conduct the transaction in person and you will come to the office. If it’s legitimate, he’ll give you an address.
Amid the onslaught of political phone spam consumers can expect this election year are new scams that Pindrop’s researchers have never seen before.
The basic scam starts with crooks spoofing a candidate’s phone number so that the call seems to come from campaign headquarters inviting you to join a virtual town hall meeting with the candidate. The meeting sounds legitimate because the scammers have patched together portions of previous town halls or use a voice actor to imitate a candidate. At a certain point, the call is interrupted and you’re asked to press #1 to make a donation. To support your candidate you give your credit card number. Not only have you handed over money to an unknown entity, you have opened the door to identity theft.
Tip: Never donate to a political campaign during an unsolicited phone call. There is no way to authenticate the person making the call.
Last year’s data hacks at extra-marital matchmaker Ashley Madison and toy maker V Tech proved that scammers are after more than your credit card number. Instead, they glean personal information to build detailed profiles that can be used for sophisticated forms of identity theft that may not be immediately obvious.
The [hacked] information is not directly financially related but becomes a stepping stone to a financial motivator.
Crooks exploit the V Tech data breach, which compromised the profiles of 6.4 million kids around the world. Because kids have no credit history and their parents generally don’t check their credit reports regularly, the theft might not be noticed until the kids grow up and apply for a credit card or financial aid for college.
Tip: This type of data breach could affect you even if your tastes don’t run to toys or hanky-panky. The health care industry is a rich target for new scams, as are popular sharing economy sites, such as Uber and AirBnB.
Mobile Wallet Pickpockets
Scammers thwarted by the added protection of chip-embedded credit cards have a promising alternative: mobile wallets. Thieves increasingly tap funds by tapping into the accounts of others through Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and Pay Pal, among others.
I received an email allegedly from Pay Pal requesting that I update my account or access will be limited. It included charges to my account with a case ID number. My instructions were to click on the button below, log in my password and e-mail address, and verify my information.
I do not have a Pay Pal account! If you receive such an email and do have an account, notify Pay Pal and verify before doing anything. It’s amazing how easy it is to add somebody else’s info to a Pay account.
Take care, be careful, and I’ll see you at the next Crime Scene.
God bless and protect our military, law enforcement, fire fighters, and EMT’s.
Ken Kleinlein is a former detective with the NYPD special frauds squad coordinating with local, state, and federal law enforcement, and certified security companies on matters of crime prevention and public information.
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