In a turn of events in the last couple of months, nearly 61 entities were taken into custody from a call center, of which 31 belong from India. The US government commended the Indian government for assisting in exposing a scam worth multi-million dollars, that had its roots in India. The scammers are charged with impersonation, extortion and for cheating thousands of US residents and luring them into paying debts that were completely fictitious. According to the reports, the scammers used to execute thousands of scam calls and scam messages on an everyday basis posing as the tax collectors from the States. They compelled people to pay a large amount and threatened them in the name of the American authorities, in the case of payment failure. Also read, Screenshot in MS Windows.
According to a statement released by an Indian police official, in one of the incidents, the victim paid an amount of $60,000 in order to avoid the so-called raid by the tax officials. In different cases, the victims were duped by the scammers impersonating as immigration officers, internal revenue services, and federal officers, who asked for payments of the debts that in reality were non-existent.
Such incidents pose a significant question-Are we safe from such scam calls and scammers?
1. Fraudulent Loan Schemes
This is one of the verticals, which is targeted the most by the scammers. Criminals impersonating top officials from reputed loan companies offer different types of loans like payday loans, car loans, home loans, etc. The most common loan is the payday loan where the victims are promised advances of cash accompanied with a short-term and minimal payback. They ask the victims to pay an amount that is small as compared to the loan amount and the victims fall prey to this trap and end up in paying the token amount.
In other scenarios, the scammers do not ask for the money. They lure the customers and ask for their credit card details, account details, contact number, date of birth, and other crucial information. They then hack the customers’ account and withdraw the entire amount from the customer’s account.
2. Outbound Technical Support
This is one of the most common fraudulent schemes, in which the scammers indulge the common people. They target the users by calling them up and saying that their system is infected by the so-called virus and is exposed to a plethora of critical issues. They claim to be executives from technology giants like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. since everyone is acquainted with these reputed brands and thus end up in believing them. They target the people having Windows OS since the majority of people use it. To a layman, the normal issues in the Windows OS might look like critical issues and thus he might get fooled by the scammer.
These fake service providers connect to the victim’s system by remote connection and make some changes in it. Post making some changes, the victim is then asked to pay some amount of money, even though there was no fault in the system. In worst-case scenarios, the scammers hack the entire system and extract the entire crucial data from it.
3. Income Tax Department
Yet another vertical where the scammers are active is the Income Tax Department. The scammers pose as the officials of Income tax department and the caller ID is also altered in order to make sure that the victims get convinced that the call is real. In case the victim does not pick the call, the contact is labeled as recyclable and will again be called after some time. The callers may say you have some pending tax and may lure you into paying it immediately. In some cases, they might tell you that you have a due refund payment and will ask you to share your personal information like bank credentials, account credentials and much more.
They can be very convincing in some cases they are acquainted with the victim’s name and the mast 4 digits of the victim’s Social Security Number.
4. Insurance Sector
As per the reports, the insurance scams alone drain around $50 billion from the people every year. The Insurance sector is yet another vertical where the scammers are booming. Be it medical, rental, car or home insurance, scammers make sure that they go to great lengths in order to ensure that they deceive the customers. They might offer different kinds of insurance and lure the customers in furnishing their personal as well as confidential details like Social Security number, credit card number, bank credentials, ATM pin and much more.
There is no denial in the fact that scam calls can prove to be fatal and swindle money from the people who are called. However, have you ever wondered how do these scammers get hold of your contact number? You might get surprised by the number of ways in which this can happen.
1. You Share Your Number Without Giving a thought
Just remember all those contest entries, membership forms, warranty registration cards, and sign up forms of various online services that you have registered with and provided your contact number. And not to forget the social networking sites, where you have furnished all your details. All this leads to unauthorized users getting their hands on your number, which they use for calling you to befool you.
Moreover, adding your contact number in your email signature puts you to risk. No matter where you are registering or signing up, there are strong chances that your number is going to end up in wrong and you are surely going to receive a scam call.
2. Accepting Terms & Conditions Without Going Through Them
The majority of the mobile applications that you come across on the internet, like games or other mobile utilities are usually designed to harness your private and confidential information. Owing to the habit of doing everything in haste, most of us do not read the terms and conditions before signing up. Therefore, it leaves the only chance of finding out whether the terms and conditions cover the rule of safeguarding your personal information and sharing it with any third party.
When you install any such fake application in your mobile, it becomes no more than a scraping device, no matter if it reveals your entire information or just your contact number.
3. Robocalls Meant To Extract Your Data
Almost all of us have received at least one robocall (calls which are dialed automatically and do not have a human being at the other end) until now. If figures are to be believed, every year around 100 billion robocalls are made to people in the United States. These calls are executed with just one motive-to extract your phone number. The system randomly dials a combination and if turns out to be a real contact number, it is recorded.
4. You Can Also be Subverted by ANI
ANI or Automatic Number Identification identifies and store your information automatically. When you dial numbers like 900, 800 and 888, your phone number is detected and extracted by ANI. It then matches your number with digital markers to make sure it is a valid number.
5. Big Data Is The Ultimate Privacy Killer
Big data are the data sets that are very complex in nature, which deploy advanced data analytics procedures for extracting value from a heap of data. In the present age, the web can crawl and extract data in just a blink. Data related to you can be mined even from the websites that you thought were legitimate.
1. A stranger gives you a call, gives a warm greeting and asks for the desktop/laptop brand you are using and shows that they are the same brand or services.
2. They pitch that they have received warning errors on their server from your desktop/laptop, your windows has expired and you are continuously sent notifications, you are not able to see the notifications as your device is either corrupted with viruses or hacked, they are connected to your device from backend and are able to detect some indecent activities happening on your device, threaten you of your device or IP being used for cyber crimes, they are able to detect that someone is trying to access your system from a different location like Asia, china, Russia, etc.
3. After giving you such reasoning they give you the assurance of resolving these issues for you with a free of cost diagnostics and try to have your device access with screen sharing software’s by the term remote session.
4.They ask you to open websites like www.teamviewer.com, www.lmi1.com, www.supportconnection.com, www.amy.com, etc.
5. A lot more screen sharing websites are there, but these are the major one’s used to take access of your device.
6. If they succeed to take the access of your device via sharing screen/taking remote, they show you normal defects inbuilt in your operating system like, “EVENTVIEWER”,”MSCONFIG”,”CMD-TREE”,”CMD-TERMINAL”, etc
7. In “Eventviewer” they try to show you warnings and errors which are a software generated task but represented as a blocker of notifications. In “MsConfig” they try to show the applications which have stopped working but is again a metaphor to confuse you. In “CMD-Tree” they will show you a black box and type tree in it, which always gives you a negative end result or the kind of issue the caller is emphasizing on which could be virus alert, hacking alert, cyber crime, the device is compromised, etc. In “CMD-Terminal” they show you a black box, type terminal in it and show you that how many foreign IP’s are trying to access your device and how many already have accessed your device, which is again a metaphor.
8. After scaring you till eternity with these metaphors they pitch in with plans of technical support and ask for money.
9. If you resist not to pay, they bring pressure to you stating that your personal information like SSN, Banking login ID’s & passwords, social media ID’s & passwords are at stake, and even your device could be a part of a great cyber crime deal, as it is being hacked.
1. Ignore Outbound Calls
Whenever you receive any outbound call, even if they claim to be the brand or service partner to any brand, never pay attention to such calls and hung up the call. As per the statistics, you will be able to notice that out of 100 times it would only be once when your service provider tried to contact you, which means only a probability of 1% makes an outbound call a genuine call from your brand or service provider, rest 99% are always scams.
2. Be Alert
Scams Target Everyone! You can be the next target. The only solution is to be alert and ensure that you don’t fall into the traps of scammers. Educate your family, friends, colleagues and others about the scammers and their different techniques. This will help more and more people to avoid being duped.
3. Keep Your Information Confidential
Always keep your crucial information safe and secure. Always put your mailbox locked and shred your important documents before discarding them. This will ensure that no one gets their hands on your important paperwork. Make sure that you share your images and other information on social media only with the people you trust. Scammers often make use of the images to target you.
4. Do Not Entertain Any Requests
Do not entertain any request for money transfer through cash, cheques, online fund transfer or any other mode to the people you don’t know. Since you cannot raise any dispute for the transaction made by you in such instances, it is better to avoid doing such transactions.
Keeping in mind the ongoing business of scam calls and their ill-effects, it gets necessary to ensure that you keep yourself from falling prey to these traps. Some of the key-strategies that will help you in ensuring the same are:
1. Contact Police Department
If you are looking for payday loans, make sure that you stay away from business that is pitched on the phone. It happens that we often fall into the trap in the haste of getting hold of the opportunity. If you are threatened by the payday loan calls, ignore them and inform the police as soon as possible. If you want payday loans, contact reputed agencies and that too in person, not over a call.
2. Disconnect Technical Support Calls
When it comes to the technical support, do not entertain such calls, and refuse any help by saying that you do not have any virus in your system. In case you have answered the call and are asked to download anti-malware software that they are providing, do not download it, as the software might make its way to your crucial information stored in the system.
3. Look Out For Signs
When it comes to income tax calls, if the person is asking you to credit an immediate payment, take it as red flag sign. The income tax department never makes a call to ask you for taxes or your refund. Before making a call, a bill is always mailed beforehand. Look out for signs like- asking your credit/debit card details, threatening to get you arrested if payment is not made, etc. Such signs point in the direction that the calls are a scam and not authentic.
You can avoid getting into the traps of the scammers by being alert at all times. Do not entertain any such calls if you find anything suspicious and get in touch with police officials immediately.
If you have some more precious time to spare, we would like to know which particular thing helped you the most in this article. Whatever be it- a step, a tip or a paragraph, kindly mention it in the below-section.