Increasing Telephone Fraud

June 2010 - Increasingly, identity theft fraud is being conducted by telephone, voice mail, and text messaging. Telephone "phishing" is another version of an email-based technique used to manipulate people into divulging confidential information. With voice traffic now carried over the Internet, new attacks can originate from computers throughout the world, rather than from a traditional physical location with a phone that can be traced. These attacks are designed to leverage the public's trust in telephone systems, Caller ID, and text messaging.

How It Works:

Your Caller ID may indicate an incoming call is from a bank or credit card company. An automated message or a live user on the other end may report an urgent problem with one of your accounts and ask you to validate your personal information, such as account number, PIN, credit card details, Social Security Number, or birthday, in order to protect the account. Alternately, people may receive a voice mail or text message urging them to respond to a security concern by dialing a given number or by going to a given Internet site to verify their account details.

What To Do:

If you receive an urgent phone call, voice mail or text message mentioning a problem with an account you hold and asking you to provide or confirm personal information, immediately hang up the call or delete the text message. Do not answer the questions or take any action as requested (e.g., press "1" to speak to the security department, call a given phone number, visit an Internet site, etc.). Then, contact the institution directly using a telephone number from an account statement or from a telephone book to validate or report the message you received.