Jan. 23, 2015 – The Week in Phone Fraud

TWIPF2This week in phone fraud, the IRS reports that 3,000 victims have lost $14 million to the IRS phone scam since October 2013 and the Federal Reserve Bank writes about Pindrop Security phone scam research.

On Thursday, CNN Money reported on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. The Treasury Inspector General says that the IRS phone scam is the most pervasive tax scam of the year, with 290,000 scam calls reported since October 2013.

On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta wrote about recent Pindrop Security research on the top consumer phone scams of 2014. The post detailed underlying strategies of the popular scams, including scare tactics, and high-pressure sales.


Full Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News

Forbes: Should Banks Be Allowed to Robocall Your Mobile Phone? – According to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, it’s illegal to robocall a mobile phone number without permission. The American Bankers Association wants to change that, arguing that robocalls will help fight identity theft and other kinds of fraud.

US News & World Report: 5 Scams That Target Your Bank Account – With numerous data breaches affecting millions of people, many Americans are on alert about credit card fraud. But not as many are aware when it comes to bank account scams. Bank account scams target a victim’s cash, and the damage can be detrimental.

CNN Money: Fake IRS phone calls tops list of tax scamsOften leaving messages that say it’s “urgent” you call them back, the scammers use common names and sometimes say they are from the IRS Criminal Division. They may even claim to know the last four digits of your Social Security number and send follow-up emails.

The Fiscal Times: The IRS Scam That Can Rob You Blind – “It is critical that all taxpayers continue to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS employees,” George said in a statement. “The callers are aggressive, they are relentless, and they are ruthless. They will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash.”

Network World: FBI and IRS warn of pervasive, maddening business, consumer scams – The FBI and IRS separately this week warned of a couple timeworn but highly effective scams that continue to grow and strip businesses and consumers of cash. First, the FBI is again warning businesses to be aware of a scam that tricks them into paying invoices.

Greensburg Daily News: Phone scam targeting Walmart customers – Callers are saying they work for Walmart and are offering free gift cards if the target will purchase a money order. Already, there have been several people attempting to get their gifts. They were turned away by Walmart, which has no knowledge of the scam.

Santa Monica Mirror: Man Pleads Guilty In Los Angeles To Bilking Airlines – A man who pretended to be a flight crew member in order to get free or low-cost flights in and out of Los Angeles County airports, which he would then sell to “clients” who would pay up to $2,000 for a year of flying, pleaded guilty today to a federal wire fraud offense.

NFC World: Young Brits ready to ditch PINs for biometrics – Three quarters of British consumers aged 16 to 24 (76%) say they would feel comfortable using biometric security when making a payment, with more than half keen to see facial recognition, fingerprints and retina scans replace passwords and PIN codes altogether.

Fox 6 Now: Wisconsin gas stations targeted in phone scam – Station employees received a phone call from a scammer claiming to be a district manager for the company. The “district manager” instructed the employees to take $500 from the registers to a local drug store or retailer and purchase a Green Dot prepaid card with the funds.

PYMNTS: Study: Retail crime hits 10-year high in UK – The British Retail Consortium reported that over $910 million was stolen from retail outlets in 2014 — an 18% increase from the year prior. This is despite the fact that the volume of actual offenses decreased by 4%, indicating that criminals are now targeting bulk items of higher value.

The Hill: Watchdog warns on IRS phone scam – The Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration said that taxpayers had reached out to his office more than a quarter million times in the last 15 months to report fraudsters who had faked being from the IRS. “This scam has proven to be the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen.”

Accounting Today: IRS Scammers Net $14 Million from 3,000 Victims – TIGTA has received reports of roughly 290,000 contacts from scammers with taxpayers since October 2013. The scammers make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials and demanding that they send them money for unpaid taxes.

NBC News: Thousands Urge FCC To Let Phone Companies Block Robocalls – The United States Telecom Association (US Telecom), a trade group which represents phone companies, says its members support third-party call-blocking solutions, but they don’t have the legal authority to allow this technology on their analog networks.

Bank Info Security: EMV: U.S. Won’t Make October Deadline – U.S. card issuers and merchants likely won’t complete a shift to EMV for many years to come, despite the card brands’ October 2015 liability shift date for counterfeit card fraud. In fact, some security experts question whether the U.S. will ever complete its adoption of chip cards.

This is Money: ‘Police fraud team’ phoned and told me someone had taken £1,400 from my savings account – He gave me a badge number, then suggested I put down the phone and dial 999 to confirm he was a policeman. I did this and was put through to him. He said everyone at my branch of Barclays bank was involved in a counterfeit money scam.

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: Phone Scams: Still Calling Around – Pindrop Security recently released some research on the most frequent consumer phone scams, reminding us of how criminals can use a low-tech device combined with high-tech research tools to scam millions of consumers out of tens of millions of dollars each year.

Arkansas Matters: Phone Scam Tricks Business with Account Details – We got a phone call from the disconnect people saying they were Entergy,” said Brandt. That phone call, displaying Entergy’s number on caller ID and even reading off the clinics account history. The person on the other line then requested a $1,000 payment.

The Guardian: How to tackle fraud ‘vishing’ calls (hang up) – Vishing? Voice phishing, apparently – all these terms are ridiculous. Crooks purporting to be from the police or your bank call you to tell you there has been fraudulent activity in your account, and give you a phone number to ring. You ring and an automated message asks you for …

ABC News: ‘Rachel With Cardholder Services’ Coughs Up Refunds – The FTC has reached a settlement and now is preparing to mail out checks to victims. The total amount available to repay consumers is $700,000. The FTC says it is mailing out 16,590 checks this week. Each check will be for $42.95 and must be cashed within 60 days.

Las Vegas Review Journal: Fake IRS agents are taking your money on the phone – In November, the IRS said it had received 90,000 complaints about phone scams via a hotline. The Treasury Inspector General estimates 1,100 people have lost a combined $5 million from these scams.

Austin Daily Herald: Know Your Legal Rights: Scammers using familiar caller IDs in latest schemes – Before she answered the call, Shelly looked at the caller ID and saw her own name and phone number! She answered and heard a recording that offered to lower her credit card interest rate.

Portland Tribune: City warns of Art Tax phone scam – Portlanders are receiving calls from the IRS collecting the $35 annual Arts Tax on behalf of the city. According to city officials, these are con artists can sound convincing when they call. In at least one instance, the scammer threatened to file legal action in a court of law.

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