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Mar. 27 – The Week in Phone Fraud

TWIPF2This week in phone fraud, American Banker reports on how the IRS phone scam is affecting financial institutions and police trace several new phone scams to inmates with contraband cell phones.

On Friday, reporter Penny Crosman of American Banker released a report on the effects of the IRS phone scam on banks. She highlighted recent research from Pindrop’s phoneypotTM and topic modeler, interviewing Pindrop director of research, David Dewey. “On any given day we see as many as 9% of those phone calls associated with the IRS scam,” Dewey said. “That’s upwards of 9,000 calls in one day associated with the IRS.”

On Tuesday, NBC exposed a phone scam ring whose origin has been traced to inside a Georgia prison. Investigators were shocked to find that inmates have be obtaining contraband cell phones, and using them to make “jury duty” scam phone calls to victims in California, New Jersey, and Georgia. 


Full Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News

Forbes: How to Spot a Tax Scammer – Know who never seems to take a holiday? Scammers pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service. Don’t become the next victim. Here’s what to know to protect yourself. In these aggressive scams, callers claiming to be from the IRS may demand money.

The New York Times: Online ‘Swatting’ Becomes a Hazard for Popular Video Gamers and Police Responders – Jokers have delighted for years at tormenting celebrities at home by calling in bogus reports of violence and provoking huge police responses. Now they are turning their pranks into public spectacle by setting their sights on video gamers who play live on the Internet.

The Law Society Gazette: Firms stand to lose billions through fraud: Bank Chief – ‘In 2014 losses through vishing went up by 300% – the cost of fraud is moving from millions to billions,’ he said. ‘Fraudsters know [law firms] have quite a lot of cash and you deal with lots of different people working to tight deadlines.’

Lifehacker Australia: Those Phone Scammers Are Now Trying To Work Out If You’re Faking It – Here at Lifehacker we’ve long maintained that scammers pretending to be from Microsof are pond scum, and that it’s a public service to keep them on the phone as long as possible. Annoyingly, it seems some of those charlatans are now alive to that tactic.

Pindrop Blog: Pindrop Teams Up with the FTC to Fight Robocalls – Each month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives 250,000 to 300,000 complaints. More than 60% of those complaints are for robocalls. According to FTC spokesperson Lois Greisman, the number of telemarketing complaints has “skyrocketed” in recent years.

Professional Adviser: FCA backs IFAs in fight against post-April pension scams – UK Consumers will have access to their pension pots from 6 April and the regulator said it is worried this will be “the very moment that unscrupulous fraudsters will offer investments with high returns”. It asked consumers to reject cold-calls.

Lifehacker: How to Identify and Avoid the Most Common Telephone Scams – The US Treasury inspector general receives between 9,000-12,000 complaints per week. “People over 50 are disproportionately victimized by telephone fraud.” Make sure you and your loved ones know how to identify and avoid the most common telephone scams.

The Next Web: Phone numbers as unique user identity: Are you ready? – It’s clear that email or social media accounts are not a valid source of user identity. Unfortunately, many apps require some form of genuine identity verification that ideally doesn’t involve a lengthy or expensive process. This is where phone numbers can come in.

Mirror: How to avoid nuisance calls – There’s nothing more annoying than jumping up from the sofa to grab the phone, only to find it’s a sales call – or worse, a dreaded silent caller. For anyone with older, more vulnerable family members, these calls can quickly go from annoying to upsetting.

RCR Wireless News: How to ensure your business phone systems are secure – There is another area that unethical hackers are targeting that isn’t getting as much attention – business phone systems. Although this hacking method is not as “sexy” as hijacking credit card information, it is arguably as financially rewarding for the perpetrators.

9 News: Colorado woman, 93, loses $100,000 in phone scam – Scammers targeting the Denver area are now changing their game. They are working “together” to target consumers, which means in many instances our phones are constantly being dialed by thieves. Sharon Hansen says her 93-year-old aunt lost more than $100,000.

NBC Connecticut: Bill Would Create “Do-Not-Call” List for Political Robocalls – They annoy me and I think we have to do something about it, said Tong. With support from both Democrats and Republicans, the Judiciary Committee is backing a bill that would create a statewide “do-not-call” list for political robocalls.

The Dallas Morning News: 8 arrested in timeshare scam operating out of Irving ‘boiler room’ – An office building in Irving was the center of a telemarketing scam that led to the indictment of eight people in Florida last week. The defendants are accused of operating a telemarketing conspiracy that targeted timeshare owners from 2009 to 2011.

PYMNTS: Spike in Fraud Has Experts Doubting Apple Pay – But as Apple banked on its simplicity pitch, did they overlook some necessary security identification steps when users set up their Apple Pay? With all the Apple Pay buzz going on, another analyst suggested some necessary practices may have been overlooked.

The Gwinnett Daily Post: Police honor Walmart employees for thwarting ‘IRS’ phone scam – A customer in Tasha Newsome’s check-out line at Walmart in Snellville was traumatized, explaining that the Internal Revenue Service planned to arrest her if she didn’t purchase $400 in prepaid credit cards and mail them in soon. Woman balks at taking a quiz to get her state tax refund – After filing her state income taxes, a woman received a letter requesting her to complete an identity confirmation quiz. She asked police to check into it. An officer verified that the state did send the letter and that the quiz could be taken over the phone or online.

FTC Blog: Reluctant to be rude? – Scammers try to take advantage of your politeness to get you to hand over money or personal information. Here are some situations when it would be just fine to interrupt, hang up, and not give a caller the time of day: On fraud database, numbers keep rising – The method used most by fraudsters to initiate contact with victims was not some high-tech device, but the humble telephone. Fifty-four percent of victims reported being contacted by phone, with email and websites coming in a distant second and third.

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