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November 20 – The Week in Phone Fraud

TWIPF2 This week in phone fraud, why contact centers matter and why you shouldn’t tweet your phone number.

On Tuesday, BAI reported on the growing importance of the contact center in banking and financial services. Along with the uptick in contact center calls, BAI predicts a rise in phone fraud attempts. The report recommends, “Contact centers must employ stringent multi-layer authentication efforts to ensure they are speaking to the true customer.”

On Thursday, one vigilante programmer decided to teach Twitter users a lesson about sharing their real phone numbers online. He scraped phone number data from Twitter, and then spammed the numbers with cat facts via text message. The only way to stop the spam was to tweet “Meow, I <3 cat facts” to Edward Snowden. The programmer told reporters he wanted to educate users before more ruthless phone scammers attacked.


Ars Technica: Beware of ads that use inaudible sound to link your phone, TV, tablet, and PC – Privacy advocates are warning federal authorities of a new threat that uses inaudible, high-frequency sounds to surreptitiously track a person’s online behavior across a range of devices, including phones, TVs, tablets, and computers.

CTO Vision: Overview of the Security Innovation Network (SINET) Showcase 16 Innovators – The showcase brought together innovative solutions in a venue designed to help the entire ecosystem to dive deeper into the nature of 16 new firms which had been the result of a formal selection process overseen by a collective of seasoned judges.

Info Security Magazine: Prison Phone Breach Opens Door to Constitutional Nightmare – These scams might include fraudsters impersonating law enforcement, claiming that they must pay court fees. Unfortunately, many families of prisoners are unlikely to be cyber-savvy, and provide a perfect target for these types of schemes.

eSecurity Planet: Breach at Securus Technologies Exposes 70 Million Prison Phone Calls – Matt Garland, vice president of research at Pindrop Security, told eSecurity Planet by email that for those affected by the breach, this is unfortunately likely to be just the beginning. “We’ve seen a trend where phone fraud follows high-profile cyber breaches,” he said.

Consumer’s Union: Dialing Back: How Phone Companies Can End Unwanted Robocalls – Carriers should heed the lessons learned from the fight against email spam. Spam filters were able to direct scammers to separate folders. Balasubramaniyan of Pindrop Security says, “[T]hat’s exactly the way the security in the phone channel is also going to go.”

Motherboard: The FBI Says Hackers Are Targeting Emergency Services – A TDoS attack, or Telephony Denial of Service, floods a service with bogus phone calls, preventing legitimate users from getting through. Such an attack could take a 911 call center offline for hours, or even potentially days.

Lifehacker: The Hacker Who Inspired Apple: John ‘Captain Crunch’ Draper – The legendary antics of phone phreaks in the 70s are numerous. A couple of phreaks called up the White House, were soon put through to the President himself — only to tell him of a ‘national emergency’ that was occurring because Los Angeles had run out of toilet paper.

BAI Banking Strategies: Why Contact Centers Matter in a Digital Age – A recent study from Pindrop Security revealed a 30% rise in phone fraud among financial institutions since 2013. Contact centers must employ stringent multi-layer authentication efforts to ensure that they are speaking to the true customer rather than a fraudster.

FTC Consumer Information: How not to pay a telemarketer – Don’t send the money. If you wire money, you can’t get it back. And, thanks to recent changes to the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, it’s just plain illegal. Under the updated Rule, it’s against the law for the caller to ask you to pay with a cash-to-cash money transfer.

The Austin Statesman: Phone, email scams hit during holiday season – “The first thing I heard was, ‘This is an emergency alert,’” she said. The message went on to congratulate her for winning the “American Dreamers Sweepstakes.” But then came the catch: she had to pay a refundable aministrative fee before the reward could be delivered.

Ars Technica: Interstate Swatting Hoax Act introduced in Congress to close legal loopholes – The practice of swatting—meaning, reporting fake threats at with the hopes of inciting a major response like a SWAT team visit—has expanded in recent years thanks to factors such as the rise of phone-masking services and Internet communities egging the act on.

Engadget: People tweeted their phone number and got spammed with cat facts – When people tweet their phone number, they think nothing of it. If the messages sent to them were malicious, [they] could be exploited with ease,”This is the danger of sharing your phone number in the 21st century — it’s not just a way to get in contact.

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