On Monday, the Tico Times, Costa Rica’s largest English-language newspaper, published an expose on fraudulent call centers headquartered in the country. According to the report, Costa Rica is home to a massive scam telemarketing industry. Callers use VoIP to disguise their call’s country of origin and attempt to convince US retirees that they have won large cash prizes, but must pay a “fee” to collect. Many of these fraud “boiler rooms” are run by US expatriates. Security analyst, Paul Chavez said, “Costa Rica is attractive to foreign criminals because the country is very friendly to the United States and it’s difficult to extradite someone. These guys aren’t afraid of Costa Rican laws. They’re afraid of Uncle Sam.”
Our research team contributed to stories around several scams this week. On Tuesday, TIME Money highlighted Pindrop’s research into the top phone scams affecting consumers. On Wednesday, the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing to learn more about the recent IRS data breach. Senators discussed how Pindrop’s Phoneprinting technology could help prevent future government agency data breaches. And Biometric Update digs into the solution side in an interview with Pindrop’s CEO & co-founder, Vijay Balasubramaniyan.
Full Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News
Pindrop Blog: US Senate Discusses How Phoneprinting Can Protect Americans from Another IRS Breach – Last week, the IRS announced that, from February through mid-May this year, criminals accessed the past tax returns of 100,000 Americans using the IRS website. Yesterday, the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs held a hearing to learn more about what went wrong at the IRS, and what steps could be taken to protect American’s personal information going forward.
Dark Reading: IRS Attack Demonstrates How Breaches Beget More Breaches – “These third parties gained sufficient information from an outside source before trying to access the IRS site, which allowed them to clear a multi-step authentication process, including several personal verification questions that typically are only known by the taxpayer.”
TMCnet: Cybersecurity Market Report – The cyber security market is estimated to grow to $155.74 billion by 2019, at a CAGR of 10.3 percent from 2014 to 2019. Pindrop Security, a provider of phone fraud prevention and call center authentication, raised $35 million in Series B funding.
Biometric Update: Pindrop Security’s voice analysis system reduces up to 90% of phone fraud, says CEO – Pindrop Security is noted for its innovative technology that detects where a call has originated through analysis of audio quality and line noise. The system analyzes every call and determines whether it is trustworthy or not, by using patented algorithms and techniques.
Consumer Reports: FCC’s proposal to crack down on robocalls is a good move – “I am proposing that the Commission send one clear message: consumers have the right to control the calls and texts they receive, and the FCC is moving to enforce those rights and protect consumers against robocalls, spam texts, and telemarketing,” Wheeler said.
Politico: New ‘robocall’ rules could leave Americans in the dark – The proposed rules are “potentially devastating to the survey, opinion and marketing research profession. The FCC and the chairman are playing fast and loose with their terms, using unwanted calls, telemarketing calls, and robocalls interchangeably.”
The Tico Times: US expats in Costa Rica masterminded massive call center fraud – Costa Rica’s friendly business climate for expats has been both good and bad, said Paul Chaves, a security analyst. “Costa Rica is attractive to foreign criminals because the country is friendly to the US and it’s difficult to extradite someone,” the analyst said.
LA Times: Putting the kibosh on robocalls is easier said than done – It would take legislative or regulatory action to tweak the Kingsbury Commitment and allow carriers to block questionable calls from other phone companies. Until then, a scammer could use some fly-by-night phone company to gain access to the major networks.
CSO: Surgical robots – smart but insecure – Through vulnerabilities in the communications technology involved in telesurgery, they were able to launch several types of attacks ranging from “jerky motion of robot’s arms,” modifying instructions from the surgeon and even a complete takeover of the robot.
Planet Biometrics: Biometrics to dominate banking methods by 2020 – Goode Intelligence has predicted that bank customers will be using biometrics as the predominant method of identifying themselves to access bank services by 2020. Biometric authentication is being adopted across all of the major bank channels.
Planet Biometrics: Interview: USAA’s Gary McAlum on biometric banking – While a number of US financial service providers have unveiled biometric mobile banking apps this year, USAA has differentiated itself in the market by offering a multimodal solution which includes facial and voice.
US Senate: The IRS Data Breach: Steps to Protect Americans’ Personal Information – Today, we will take a closer look at the recent cyber attack on the IRS. We will examine what went wrong, how the IRS is trying to repair the damage, and what we can do to reduce the likelihood to make sure that something like this doesnt happen again.
PYMNTS: Nine Execs on How to Build a Better Social Commerce Strategy – Based on what you’ve seen so far what does social commerce look like in five years? Biometrics will become far more common, including voice activation, which will allow consumers to order and post comments without ever typing or entering anything.
US Senate: Sen. Ernest Questions Panel on Cybersecurity and System Improvements at Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Hearing – There’s also some interesting innovation by a company that had come out of Georgia Tech, Pindrop Security, they actually work for financial services companies.
News-Press: IRS a too-easy mark for fraudsters – The IRS is “literally always under attack” by hackers around the world, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the USA TODAY Editorial Board in February, “because if you could get in … it’s a great place to get data.” Koskinen sure had that right.
The Washington Post: A horrible new PayPal policy opts you into getting robocalls – The payments company is rolling out an update to its user agreement that threatens to bombard you with “autodialed or prerecorded calls and text messages” — and worse, by agreeing to the updated terms, you’re immediately opted in.
Time Money: 10 Phone Scams You Should Hang Up On Immediately – Pindrop analyzed more than 26,000 comments from online forums and complaint sites, and nearly 20% were about credit card rate reduction scams. The callers promise interest rate reductions, but first the victim needs to pay the caller an upfront fee, Pindrop found.