Jan. 16, 2015 – The Week in Phone Fraud

TWIPF2This week in phone fraud, the FBI reports a spike in fake kidnapping calls and the American Bankers Association asks the FCC to relax robocall restrictions.

On Wednesday, Business Insider published a story on the spike in the number of scammers calling people at random and claiming a family member has been kidnapped. Scammers say the hostage has gotten into a car crash with a gang member who wants money to repair the damaged vehicle. They often use young women making screaming noises in the background to convince family members to send money.

On Friday, Today reported on new efforts by the American Bankers Association to relax the FCC’s rules on robocalls. Bankers want to use robocalls to alert customers to possible fraud and data breaches. However, consumer advocates worry that it is an attempt to weaken current consumer privacy rules.


Full Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News

Market Watch: Trouble calling: Beware telephone scams – Despite the latest technologies and new ways thieves can try to rob you of your money and your important personal data — it seems there will always be good, old-fashion telephone scams. In fact, phone scams have proven to be a serious consumer problem this year.

Huffington Post: POS Breaches in 2015: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – With Target’s massive point-of-sale breach at the end of 2013 to a steady stream of retail breaches throughout 2014, it seems like cyber criminals continue to win the battle over consumer data. If 2014 was the year of the POS breach, then what will 2015 bring? 5 ways to sniff out N.J. charity scams after youth group accused of fraud – High-pressure phone calls urging donations immediately are red flags. Also watch out for callers who say they will send a messenger to your house to pick up money, or who claim you gave in the past, when in fact you have not.

Albuquerque Journal: Santa Fe police alert residents to ‘IRS’ phone fraud scam – The woman was contacted by a representative from the IRS and told she owed back taxes. The woman then began to receive calls from the Santa Fe County Regional Emergency Communications Center. It looks as though the number was ‘spoofed.’

Today: Robocallers are coming after your cellphone The nation’s bankers have asked the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to change the rules to allow them to robocall their customers. In some cases, without their prior consent. They also want to be exempt from legal action if they robocall the wrong number by mistake.

The Province: It’s ‘100% terrorism’: victim decries ‘swatting’ that brought Mounties to her door – A Burnaby woman says she feels terrorized after falling victim to a “swatting” attack at her home. Ashley Lynch said she was home alone when two police officers knocked on her door and asked if she had any weapons in the house. Will the FCC make it easier for you to get unwanted calls and texts? – At a time when robocalls and debt collection dominate consumer complaints, the FCC is considering changes to the quarter-century-old Telephone Consumer Protection Act that would let companies escape financial penalties if they pester the wrong people.

The Times of India: 6 banks, telecom firm to pay for credit card frauds – The order is significant as this is the first time that any authority has said that an individual’s liability in respect of fraud should be capped. Until now banks have been holding the customer fully liable for anyone hacking into his email or mobile.

Business Insider: The Fake Kidnapping Phone call is the Scariest Scam in New York Right Now – The FBI says the scammers use young women to make screaming noises in the background of calls, making it sound as if someone has actually been kidnapped. They also hurry people into sending the payment while on the call.

Politico: Obama pushes cybercrime law – The law enforcement proposal will contain provisions broadening prosecutors’ powers against cyber crime, for example by criminalizing the overseas sale of stolen U.S. financial information. It would also allow for the prosecution of the sale or rent of botnets.

NACS Online: Senator Urges Action by Banking Regulators – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sent a letter to federal banking regulators yesterday questioning the lack of follow-up to better protect consumers. Warner urged federal regulators to push harder to require banks and card-issuers to adopt better anti-fraud security features. Comreg threatens Yourtel with court action over alleged spam hone calls – Comreg has accused Yourtel of badgering people with unsolicited marketing and telesales calls. The operator, which claims to operate the lowest-priced landline calls in Ireland, stands accused of calling up people who have opted out of marketing communications in the National Directory Database (NDD).

Christian Science Monitor: Biometrics researchers race to stay one step ahead of hackers – As hackers find new ways to break into devices that use retina scans or fingerprints as passwords, researchers are quickly improving biometrics technology. They say the trick is teaching machines to become better at recognizing life.

San Jose Mercury News: If your phone’s ringing, it’s time for another solar energy pitch – In an era of environmental consciousness, it’s not easy to give solar energy a bad name. But a telemarketing firm seems to have that as its corporate theme. A lot of folks in the Bay Area know the company for what it is — a cold-calling, solar energy huckster.

Cleveland Daily Banner: Scammers use Green Dot cards to steal your money – Three large-scale cons have continued to prey on the wallets of residents. The scams are the IRS phone scheme, the Publisher’s Clearing House cheat and the Sheriff’s Office/Warrant swindle.

WIVB4: Dialing wrong number saves dozens from IRS phone scam – The calls turned into a flood of wrong numbers by Friday. Every one of those callers was trying the same wrong number, which happened to be on Samuel Son’s switchboard, and the callers were terrified because they were being threatened by the IRS.

American Banker: What Obama’s Latest Cybersecurity Push Means for Banks – The president teed up several new initiatives on Monday. They included new legislation, the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act, which would establish national notification standards that mandate a notice to consumers within 30 days of a breach.

Davidson News: Whatever happened to the Do Not Call Registry? – As of the end of September 2014, more than 217 million numbers had been registered with the Do Not Call list. But as anyone with a home phone knows, somewhere along the line the Do Not Call list stopped working as promised. What went wrong?

The Tennessean: Dickson police: Scammers using number, names to extort – Cole suspected the scammer searched online for a name connected to the police department. “What they’re doing, they’re Googling different police departments and when they find an officer, like Patrol Lt. Christian, they’re adopting the name,” Cole said.

WHSV: Phone Scam Promises Money and Car – How would you react if you got a phone call saying you had won $1.5 million? W.B. Speck got that call and the man on the other end of the line said Speck won a new Mercedes too. The only catch? The man said that Speck would need to pay $199 to have the car delivered.

Online Media Daily: Text-Spam Case Against Lyft Suspended Until FCC Weighs In – A federal judge said this week that she will await guidance from the Federal Communications Commission before continuing proceedings in a lawsuit centering on whether Lyft’s “invite friends” feature violates an anti-spam law.

Jacksonville Progress: Member of ‘swatting’ ring gets 5-year prison term – A 34-year-old Omaha, Nebraska, man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for his role in a “swatting” ring that made fake 911 calls to draw special weapons and tactics officers to hoax situations.

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