That silence at the end of the line
The phone rings, you pick it up and say “Hello” and no one is on the other line.
This is a new type of robo-Call – an automated computer system making tens of thousands of calls to “build a list of humans target for theft”.
According to the Financial Fraud research center it is the first step in opening you up to many of the phone-based scams.
Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Pindrop Security, a company in Atlanta that detects phone fraud, says that in any number of ways, the criminal ring gets your 10 digits and loads them into an automated system.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, these robocalls are on the rise because Internet-powered phones make it cheap and easy for scammers to make illegal calls from anywhere in the world.
The next step is gathering information about your bank or credit card account. You get a call with a prerecorded voice that tells you, for example, “[we’re] calling with an important message about your debit card. If you are the cardholder please stay on the line and press 1. Otherwise please have the cardholder call us at 1-877…”
If you’re thinking about ignoring it, the message tries to scare you into paying attention with a warning: “A temporary hold may have been placed on your account and will be removed upon verification of activity.”
That number leads to another automated system that prompts you to share personal details like your date of birth, your card number and secure PIN, the expiration date, your Social Security number.
It can be tricky because many real banks have a similar system. And, Balasubramaniyan says, fear does kick in. He recalls a big scam in 2014 in which criminals pretended to be the IRS calling to collect back taxes. (The agency says the scam is still going on.) If you wanted to call back or have time to talk to your spouse before paying over the phone, the fraudster wouldn’t let you go.
Solution – If you have not already done so, ask your phone company top put caller ID on your landline. Then simply screen your calls and don’t pick up if the number is unfamiliar.
Do not engage in any way with robocallers a lot of times when you get a robocall you have the option of pressing 1 for more information or pressing 2 to ask to be removed from the list. And in either case, pressing 1 or 2 basically lets the robocaller know that it’s a live person on the other line who’s willing to engage and that could lead to additional robocalls.