Archive for category knowledge
It’s here! The brand new version of the tellows app for iPhone is now available – even better value until Christmas!
Hello friends of tellows!
Our growing online community has meant a steady and significant increase in the quantity of phone numbers we have in our database; the total now stands at over 75,000. This wealth of data is making unknown numbers even easier to recognise, meaning you can stop phone fraudsters in their tracks! Daily, millions of people are hassled by spam calls – the tellows app can help you to effectively protect yourself against telepests.
Unwanted calls tend to take a sharp upturn in the run-up to Christmas, presumably because the callers are hoping that purse strings will be tied a little more loosely in the festive spirit. Tele-spammers are looking for an easier ride. Fight back with the app! From now until Christmas, we’re offering the tellows app for $0.99 (a 60% discount!) in the App Store. Think of it as a Christmas present, from us to you.
Compatibility: New Version
The app is synchronised with the tellows database, so that the app is able to recognise calls from numbers that are graded with a high untrustworthiness score (7-9) on the tellows website. This means that a questionable call will be detected and flagged up as soon as the phone rings. You can later search the number using the aptly named ‘Search Number’ box in the app’s navigation bar. This will take you straight to the number’s profile on tellows, where you can read comments that have already been posted and, of course, add your own.
We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: scammers really do know no scruples. The scheme we’re looking at this week preys on senior citizens.
Often living at home alone, Grandma & Gramps may feel isolated or vulnerable; so when a scammer comes calling from ‘Senior Safety Alert’ with an offer of an unbelievably cheap in-house alarm system for break-ins or medical emergencies, they will probably jump at the chance.
Ironic, considering that sieges on their security are exactly what they’re trying to protect themselves against.
The call starts with a recording offering the deal: a system worth hundreds of dollars, fitted for you, on a $30 per month contract. The potential ‘scammee’ will then need to press a number to indicate their interest and will be transferred to a ‘customer advisor’, who will take their credit card numbers and personal information and scam them for all their worth.
You, faithful tellows users, seem to be on the ball enough to show these fraudsters what you’re made of. It helps that they don’t seem to have the facility to filter their target market.
User ‘vanity-affair’ got a call from 2126775122, claiming to be ‘Medical Alert Systems for Seniors’ (which might be bona fide but is suspiciously one of the names famously used by bogus callers).
I’m not a senior but the calls are still annoying. I’m not interested in buying something over the phone.
Meanwhile, ‘grandma’ is having none of it: with a dismissive flick of what I imagine to be an immaculate perm, she terms the call she got from 5412003592 as
the classic medical alert scam.
Things to look out for…
The caller will identify him or herself as an employee of a company to the effect of Senior Safe Alert, Medical Alert Systems, etc. etc. There are, of course, legitimate companies that offer these systems but they will NOT, repeat NOT, ask you for your social security number, credit card details, outline of your genetic makeup, etc. etc. during a sales call! Other warning signs include a refusal to disclose any details about the company (e.g. address) or an unwillingness to provide any authentification documents.
As always, take care of yourselves! And don’t forget to er… raise the alarm, if you get one of these calls.
Keep reporting your number experiences on tellows and have an excellent week!
Your tellows team
21st October 2013 brought good news for all phone-owners as the USA’s Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission joined forces with organisations in the UK and Canada to crack down on ‘spoof’ callers. This new task force aims to share international resources and knowledge to tackle nuisance callers’ stranglehold over phonelines the world over.
The Truth in Caller ID Act, passed by President Obama in December 2010, prohibits the masking of Caller ID with the intent to “defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value”. Working with Ofcom, the UK’s independent regulation and competition authority for communications industries, the UK-based Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Canadian Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the FTC and FCC have pledged to use their collective international jurisdiction act decisively and severely against the criminal act of spoofing.
Spoof calling, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, involves using some ingenious software to mask the number you’re actually calling from, preventing the recipients of your calls from locating you, or calling you back. This is naturally infurating for people plagued by anonymous calls. What’s even more infuriating is that whilst some spoofers use nonsense numbers instead of their own, others have gone the extra mile and strategically use the phone numbers of well-known organisations to execute some impressive scam manoeuvres. Let’s take a look at a couple.
Tellows users in the US reported this month that one band of tricksters have been using a phone number belonging to New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation (NYSTEC) to try and pose as telemarketers. User Gerald says about his call from 5186211390:
I got this call from “NYSTEC” but I figured out rather quickly that it was scam. Someone is “spoofing” their number cause NYSTEC doesn’t make any telemarketing calls or ask for donations. Nor would it ask personal information or even credit card information in that way.
NYSTEC soon cottoned onto the fact that their number was being used by a spoof caller and released a statement on their website.
More dramatically, last week’s ‘sheriff’ blog aptly illustrates how successful a daring fraudster can be. Numerous cases of sheriff-impersonation have been springing up all over the United States, convincing vulnerable citizens to, for example, bail out a relative or pay their way out of an arrest warrant.
A non-existent ‘Donald Mack’ from Kern County Sheriff’s department (9164148678) tried to tell user Jen that there was a warrant out for her arrest. The genuine sheriff’s department, when Jen called them back, confirmed that it’s not possible to be ‘served’ over the phone. Kudos to Jen for the cool-headed approach!
Fraudsters will even impersonate a string of different people, calling you back on different, faked numbers, working their way up a disciplinary hierarchy to try and scare you into paying up.
The numbers used by spoofers range from any old number, to the very frustrating 000-000-0000 number variants, to the phone numbers of prestigious organisations. Difficulty in tracking down the culprits is increased thousandfold by the fact that the origin of the call is completely untraceable. Without an area code, there is generally no way of discerning where or who a call has come from; this means that internationally-placed spoof calls are becoming increasingly common – hence the transatlantic team-up.
The joint statement, published on the ICO’s website, avers that the six regulators
will work together to share information and target organizations responsible for spoofing.
The member organisations will pool resources, share information and work together with telecommunications industries in their respective countries to target and reprimand offending organisations. Guidelines on what constitutes ‘misuse’ of the spoofing technique are also being reconsidered and clarified, with a view to introducing tougher punitive measures. And it’s not just the scam callers that are being targeted; silent and abandoned calls will be treated with equal severity.
For now though, until that distant day when spoofers and scammers have been silenced once and for all, remember to second-guess that unknown caller! Stay suspicious and have a great week.
Your tellows team
Who Spoofed the Sheriff? Audacious Phone Tricksters Use Spoof Technology to Impersonate Officers of the Law!
The most recent spate of phone scams in the United States is an ingenious one. Criminal callers are using ‘spoofing’ technology (which allows a caller to choose which number appears on your display when they call you) to make you believe they’re calling from your local sheriff’s office.
Generally, they’ll have laid their hands on some convincing personal details about you – a loan you recently took out, perhaps, or the name of someone in your family. They’ll inform you that there is a charge against you, which you can pay a fine to waive. They’ll also have done their research on the sheriff’s office in question and will often use accurate names and information to convince you of their authenticity. After all, the number on your display is definitely the sheriff’s number – why wouldn’t you believe them?!
This is a scam that is popping up all over the USA, counting victims in Pinellas County, FL, Pima County, AZ, Spokane County, WA and Macomb County, MI to name but a few. By playing on their victims’ emotions and convincing them that they’re bailing out a relative, for example, these tricksters have made people part with thousands of dollars.
User Jen tells us more about a call she received from 9164148678…
A man calling himself Don Mack claiming to be an Investigator with the Kern County Arbitration Department calls to say they have sworn affidavits and will be filing charges in the morning to of theft and fraud. He throws around all of this legal mumbo Jumbo. Does not state at the beginning of the call that the call is being recorded but later when he’s telling you how favorable the judge will be (or presumably will not be) when he hears the tape of the conversation. He throws around some figures and slides in to the conversation that you can take care of it by paying fees of out of court costs of some amount. He expressed frustration with your inability to understand what he is saying when you ask questions and also advises you to get a lawyer. He claims that you’ve been “served” over the phone and that you’ve been on a warrant dialer list.
Edward B. had a similar experience with 8558506310:
They called my wife, claiming that they had an arrest warrant for me and told her I had until 5.30 pm to turn myself in or we had to pay $1.500. When she asked for what, they said for fraud but wouldn’t specify any further.
Similar scams involve scammers posing as local law enforcement agencies trying to get payment details from victims, supposedly to pay off a pay-day loan; in another case, a caller posed as a member of the Drug Enforcement Administration, telling the victim that he was under investigation for purchasing illegal substances. Often, these calls will actually be followed up by another call from the same guy, using a slightly different voice and name, claiming to be from an organisation with a higher authority and threatening you with further action.
Spoofing, with the intent to “defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value” is illegal under the Truth in Caller ID Act, which came into force in 2010.
Always remember that police will never ask you for payment over the phone. Hang up immediately and report the incident to the real state police if you believe that you have been called by one of these spoof callers. You can also register these incidents at http://www.fcc.gov/complaints.
Remember to share your experiences on tellows to help protect other users from these types of scams!
Be wary of suspicious callers and have a great week!
Your tellows team
Fake job offers, donations that never reach their destination and the rather popular PayPal scam. The latest in scams!
Dear friends of tellows,
If you think that scammers aren’t clever, or creative, this article may surprise you. Successful frauds are not that common and it’s quite difficult even to invent one, much less make it work. Today, we will present you with three new techniques that we have come across this week, based on a good deal of patience, exploitation of basic human emotions and of course, a degree of resourcefulness.
The first number 2032863985 from Connecticut, USA is a great example. To pull off this particular scam, the fraudsters had to buy a domain and make a plausible webpage, obtain a convincing phone number, research classy-looking addresses, stay in constant contact with their clients and rake in the cash in a way which wouldn’t arouse suspicion – at least not right away. This was a carefully planned and executed ploy, not your standard “Give me your credit card details!”
It goes something like this:
Your receive an email from Wilfred Adams (this name was a favourite of theirs) from Ghana Gold Corporation with a job offer, which seems to fit you perfectly and also happens to pay pretty nicely. (It’s always an email, never a call or a letter). Although you may initially have some doubts, they’ll provide you with ample information on their projects, give you access to their webpage (http://ghgoldcorp.com/projects.html) and provide their contact information.
However, the catch will inevitably become visible when formalities are discussed; the job is, after all, in Ghana and there will be a fair few administrative points to consider.
when you come to the “formalities” of the job offer they start asking for money, like for the courier services, medical clearances and custo clearances and so on. They never really answer your questions and the offer comes out of the blue, without any calls. You would believe that a big company like that doesn’t make you pay for something like courier services but this is the first hint.
The further along it goes, the more you’ll notice that things don’t quite add up. As you start to find out more about the job, the company and their projects, you’ll begin to smell a rat.
a few things don’t really add up:
- the area code is wrong
- when you look up the domain information about the site you’ll find a different registered address=> so the address given in the mail is wrong or just doesn’t make sense
- but even the newfound information is wrong if you go deeper:their phone number isn’t even theirs
- the mail in the domain informations is known to be used by frauds
=> it sounds more and more like scam: someone bought a domain and phone number to hide the real objective….to many red flags here that i would believe this job offer, there isn’t even a business like Ghana Gold Corporation in NY!!!
The second number 4107056172 from Beltsville – USA is from Outreach Calling call center. It is a lawful enterprise but its methods are somewhat interesting. This call center calls on behalf of several charitable organizations, such as MD State Fraternal Order Of Police or children’s hunger funds. People can donate money to, say, the families of fallen officers. Whilst this all seems very commendable, what brought this issue to our attention was how the donations are managed. One user reported some interesting facts:
I know about this company because let’s say I had a friend (^^) and this friend kinda worked for a similar company. This callcenter calls people and collects money for different causes, depending for what organization it currently works. It can be something like “for families of fallen police officers” or the like. They cant accept donations under 10$ because only 1-15% of it will be actually donated and the rest goes to the owner or let’s say for paycheks, for maintaining the building and so on. To remove the number is also quiet difficult because a regular call rep can’t do that. He will just remove you from the list of that specific organization but they’ll continue to call you to donate for different organizations. I heard you’ll have to aks specifically for a verifier to remove your number permanently but this step is avoided as much as possible. It’s not like the don’t donate anything but like I said, the majority of the money isn’t used for what the people who donated think it is. It’s sad but well….this friend of mine doesn’t work there anymore but it was an experience…..
This is not to say that donations should not be made but those who would like to donate may wish to ask how much of the donated money actually goes to the charitable organization. If you have any problems or you can’t get hold of the information you want, then it’s always possible to donate to the preferred organization directly.
And finally our third number 8324081079 from Texas, Houston area, USA, which is a PayPal scam. This method is getting quite popular the world over. Why? Because it’s easy to do and citing PayPal can create a trustworthy-looking facade. Spotting the scam is easy if you look out for the following…
These are the hints for the scam:
- First you wouldn’t send a text message but use the services on the responsible site. But by sending you text like that you’ll give them your mail address.
- They usually ask for information which you already published on Cycle Trader or another site.
- Then it always comes to problems with the payment and for whatever reason, they always can pay with PayPal only. Maybe they’ll invent some story…
Getting your email address and paying by PayPal are the vital elements needed to make this scam work. Usually the process goes like this:
1. They send you a text message asking you to send them a mail so that they can get your mail address
2. Then they will say that they’ll pay with PayPal and they will give you extra money for the shipping or something else, afterall your bike or whatever they want, has to be delivered to them
3. Then you receive a PayPal deposit notice email where you can read the money has been transferred
4. Finally, now that you have the money, you transfer via wire or pre-paid card the ‘extra’ money for the shipping to the one who’s supposed to pick up the bike or whatever
=> Then you realize that no money has been transferred to your PayPal account. The end!
In some cases, when the scam victim starts to have their doubts, they will become more insistent and between steps 3 and 4 they may start to send more messages to reassure you and encourage you to pay. They may say something along the lines of:” I already paid my part. All that’s left is for you to finish your part of the deal” or “PayPal already gave you all the information. The notice they send me…..”. Watch your step here and do not answer to this kind of message.
All of these techniques are designed to make you part with your money and in the most inconspicuous way. Second-guessing is highly recommended and if there is even the slightest hint of scam, take precautionary measures and do your research.
This week we are going to discuss the aggressive techniques frauds use on you. These scammers aren’t scared to threaten you and even mention that you can contact your attorney. With these methods the threat sounds even more convincing.
The basic idea is as follows: they leave you a message on your phone saying, that there is a restraining order, investigation, previous conviction or something else on you and if you or your attorney don’t answer the call in the next 4 hours, they’ll begin to take the next steps, like contacting your employer and delivering the papers. If you actually try to call them back, it doesn’t work for a few hours. Then, when you get through, no further information is given beside that you have a debt to pay. No proof will be served either.
Important and fear inducing names can be used too, like HSBC ( Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation Holdings) or IRS ( Internal Revenue Service) to apply even more pressure. But sometimes the frauds don’t really try that hard, for example, all of them take on the name ‘Johnson’ or they let someone do their work, who has a thick accent The most stupid mistake though, is to actually call someone from a complete different and far far away area code.
We picked out 3 numbers which seem to practice these techniques enthusiastically.
1. The first number 2162175984 from Cleveland has got the time limit of 4 hours and won’t give you any information or a debt verification.
2. The second number 7572146785 from Virginia just leaves an automated message, not making an effort to do it personally. In return they’re quiet stubborn and will harass you for a long time.
3. And the third number 5302385813 from Shasta Lake with the thick accent claimes to be from the IRS and threatens to freeze all your accounts and credit cards if you don’t cooperate.
One of the experiences with these numbers looked like this:
Clearly an illegal scam targeting some moronic collection agency, caller threatens to call your employer in 4 hours if you don’t call them back. When you actually do get someone, they have no clue about collection law. They refuse to give you any information, will not give you a debt verification letter, nor will they send any information to you. This is ILLEGAL!! Know your rights, call the Ohio Attorney General’s office, Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, and the FCC, then call the Cleveland Police and file a complaint, have the District Attorney file a cease an desist order, and they will be arrested if they don’t stop. THEY ARE LIARS, DO NOT COOPERATE.
But all this stories aren’t as interesting as this one. Here the people aren’t actually pestered by calls but by e-mails. You get an email from someone called Mr. Benjamin Josh Gibson and also recieve his phone number 7167774105 . In this mail you read a heartbreaking and interesting story of a bank manager, who can’t find the owner of 4 Million$ and simply decides to take it for himself. He extends an invitation to you to assist him in his plan and everything will be devided 50:50. This is like a movie come true but the catch is, that at some point you’ll have to give him your bank account number to send the money from his bank and then it will be your money that is in danger if beeing transfered.
I got an email a few days ago from the guy I mentionen above and I think he tried to make me do some pretty illegal stuff cause he told me something about a man who left behind large sum of money, 4 Mill I think, in a fixed deposit account in his bank. Yes he says he works there. In his email he describes extensively how he tried to find that man but he never succeeded(should I feel pity for him now?….), well he kind of did, but then this rich Mr. Rime Vishnuramann already died . Now he came up with the idea to make me pose as his next of kin to get hold of the money. The government wouldn’t be able to do much good with it and we, as in me and that guy, actually could. It’s all “safe and beneficial.” and “not a matter of being greedy or having ugly morals”….
Yeeeeah riiiight of course it is!!! all would go well becaue his department would be responsible for everything and we will share 50:50.
I laughed for 5 minutes when I’ver read this! I mean how much more rediculous can this situation get??! I’m sure, I’m not the only one who got that messasge an I think there won’t be enogh Millions for all of us.
I’m terribly sorry Mr. Gibson but I’ll have to decline your kind offer. I Know how this works. In our next conversation I’ll have to give you my bank account number, so that you can transfer the money from your bank and miraculously all of my money there will vanish, just like you. That’s why I can only say it again: Thanks but No!!!
These numbers teach us a proper lesson on frauds and their techniques: never give your personal information to someone you don’t know, even if he promises you 2 Million$. Beeing careful is the prime rule concerning this kind of things and we hope that through this article, we could help you to be aware of what you have to be careful of.
The Tellows Team
For many, the computer has become an important device to manage matters of everyday life. With useful features such as email, social networking sites, online banking and shopping, there is barely any aspect of life that you can’t organize with the help of your computer in one way or the other. As discussed on our tellows blog – both US and UK – in the past, that turns the computer into an appealing target to scammers.
The number of telephone scams aimed at receiving access to computers has been increasing as a growing number of comments such as those of tellows user Sonya, who wrote about the number 7804094786, demonstrate:
This man with a heavy accent called here, saying that he was from “Microsoft”, that my computer had sent them a error message of some sort and that he was now calling to fix the problem. This was literally a day after I had bought a new computer that was still in the process of being set up, but I figured I played along for a little while longer, just to see where they were going with this. He then said to press start and type in CMD into the search and click enter. [...] Long story short: It’s a scam – so beware!
How the Scammers Operate
In most instances, the scammer posed as a representative of Microsoft or Windows Microsoft, claiming that the computer of the person called has been infected with malware causing the operating browser or computer to sent a critical error message to the supposed tech support of the corporation. The goal, to gain access to the computer and subsequently other sensitive personal information about its owner or users, is achieved by instructing the target to change current computer settings or to download rogue security software to leave the computer vulnerable.
In some cases, they also attempt to charge a fee for supposedly fixing your computer: user Mr. Swanson reported about the number 8008008200:
Total scam! The caller said he was calling from “Microsoft” and that it had come to their attention that my computer had been infected with a dangerous virus. Of course, they had the solution for my “problem” and, yes, while it might cost nearly $300, it would be a good investment and apparently really the only way to save my computer. I figured I humored them long enough, said they should go to hell and hung up. So if you’re not in the mood for playing with some scammers, don’t pick up!
Reported Scam Numbers
Several users reported other numbers connected to the scam on tellows, including the following numbers:
- 9712179514 calling from Oregon (USA)
- 4163641111 calling from Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
- 6617480241 calling from California (USA)
Detecting the Scam
In some cases, if your computer has been infected by malware and you are a customer of Microsoft, you may receive a call from a legitimate representatives of Microsoft. However, actual employees of the corporation are able to verify you as a customer and will not charge you to fix your computer over the phone.
Moreover, you should keep the following things in mind when dealing with calls that seem suspect:
- don’t provide any information regarding yourself, your computer or your credit or bank account on the telephone (unless you can be 100% sure that you are talking to a legitimate representative of the company in question and you are a customer)
- don’t follow any instructions that change computer settings, especially if you don’t know how it will affect your computer
- don’t provide a third party access your computer on the telephone
- don’t download software that you have no knowledge of, especially if you are charged for it
An ongoing issue for the company, Microsoft is well aware of the problem and has provided an information page on phone scams related to the corporation.
Reacting to the Scam
If you have already given away information and think you might be a victim of scammers, change the password on your computer as well as for other user accounts they may try to access such as email account, bank or credit card account. Run a trustworthy and reliable scan program on your computer – Microsoft recommends the Microsoft Safety Scanner.
Furthermore, don’t forget to report the scam: if you are aware of a number that is used for this type of scam, you can alert the Federal Trade Commission in the US. In order to warn others, you are encouraged to share the information you have on our tellows community as well.