Despite the rise in popularity of Internet banking scams, telephone banking scams are still very much alive and kicking. Now that scammers have found ways to circumvent caller ID blocking and intercept calling devices, every day there are likely thousands of people receiving calls that are less than legit.
The techniques telephone banking scammers use are not very different from those Internet phishermen use to try and bait people into giving up personal information. Most of these are based on traditional social engineering techniques.
When scammers make telephone calls to individual homes they immediately employ these social engineer tactics to either sweet-talk, bully or scare people into offering the information they desperately want.
For sweet talk they may offer a ‘special deal’ (usually very attractive) in order to convince people to share information; they may also try and instill fear by saying an account has been compromised, or may just be pushy and try to bully the person on the receiving end to share information by making them frustrated enough where they will say anything to get off the phone.
Whatever the approach, sometimes it is easy to pinpoint a scammer, but not always. These are some of the things you should do or look out for to avoid telephone banking scams.
*Caller ID and Call Intercept
While these are great deterrents to cut back on scam calls, unfortunately they do not block or identify 100% of the calls, so if you rely on these tools, chances are you might be fooled by one of those who do get through. Use these tools, but combine this use with vigilance and know what else to look for.
*Never Give out Information
Even if you think it may really be your bank calling, never give out any personal or sensitive information. Instead tell them you cannot take the call right now and then immediately get out your credit card or bank statement and call the bank directly. If the call was legitimate you can resolve the issue, but if not, you’ll have successfully evaded a scammer.
Common information telephone scammers look to get is verification that the person they are calling resides at the phone number; from here it is easy to find an address and all sorts of other information. Or they may straight out ask for your address indicating they want to mail you something or a special offer.
The bank scammer may also be bold enough to ask for social security numbers, PIN numbers, a birthday or verification of account numbers or passwords. Legitimate callers will never ask for any of this kind of sensitive information; don’t ever give this information at all.
Other objectives the caller may be trying to find out is to phish whether or not you have an actual account at the bank they are trying to portray. If they get lucky and you verify this information for them, their next move may be to try and access online banking or find some other way into your accounts. The more information the scammer is armed with, the closer they get to gaining access.
*Listen to the Caller
Does the person identify themselves and immediately tell you why they are calling? If no, then tell them no thank you and hang up. Any real offer will give a detailed explanation of who they are and why they are calling; although some scammers have this technique down pat, so do be careful either way.
Is the caller pushy and talking rapidly? If so, then they are likely not legit, real banks want you to listen and offer good customer service; pushy people in a rush don’t have any investment in developing good customer relations and just want to hurry up and get the information they seek.
You can often get a lot of clues based on the callers manner of speaking and their behavior, usually your gut instinct will let you know, but some callers are really good and sound authentic; always err on the side of caution.
*Beware of Automated Callers
Sometimes scammers will hook up their swindle scheme to an automated calling approach. What happens is they ask you to either press “1” (or another number) to continue or be taken off the list. The key here is to not do either, by doing so you validate the call and/or your identity.
Telephone bank scammers are still very much enthusiastically trying their best to swindle people out of their money. With so much effort and attention being given to Internet scammers, some telephone scammers can be pretty bold.
The best way to avoid telephone banking scams is to learn “how to recognize and identify the most the most common telemarketing scams” (www.ftc.gov) and also register your phone number on the Do Not Call Registry. While the latter will not completely eliminate scams, it will reduce legitimate calls and you can be more in tune with scams.