Posted by: Donna Cunningham | July 16, 2010

NEW SCAM ALERT–Telephone Denial-of-Service Scam

I recieved this alert from LifeLock recently and thought cell phone users should be aware of it. 

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation- http://www.FBI.gov

Scam Characteristics:
It’s a new twist on an old scam. Criminals are using automated dialing programs to send thousands of phone calls to victims in an effort to tie up their phone lines.

The reason? To distract them while the scammer empties their bank accounts. And because the phone lines are busy, banks trying to verify the validity of transactions can’t get through. Even if the bank declines a suspicious purchase or withdrawal, the criminal, posing as the victim, calls the bank, and verifies the transaction using identity information they stole earlier.

The scam usually starts weeks or months in advance as scammers use computer viruses or phishing emails to gain private information about the victim, including passwords, account numbers, and answers to security questions the bank may ask (“What’s your mother’s maiden name?”). The barrage of phone calls causing a denial-of-service is often the culmination of patient planning.

Steps you can take to help avoid becoming a victim of this scam:

  • If you begin receiving a lot of phone calls with dead air, recorded messages, or even phone sex menus, contact your financial institutions and telephone service provider immediately. Use an alternate phone other than your home phone to contact all of the financial organizations you do business with and explain the situation to them. They should help you temporarily halt any new transactions.
  • Change your online passwords often. Especially if you bank online, or use an online payment service. People often forget how much of their personal information is stored online. That’s why it is so important to change these passwords regularly, and especially if you have recently had a computer virus.Protect your information. These criminals are patient and may try to access your information several different ways. Remember to never share your personal information with unsolicited callers (the same goes for email), be cautious of how much information you share on social networking sites, and always protect your computer with antivirus.

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