It has been a long time! tellows hopes you enjoyed the summer. This time we would like to present the latest statistics about phone scams from the past two months. As a reminder, a bill ‘TRACED ACT’ was passed in July and it aims to lower the number of robocalls. However, according to Forbes, robocalls are still prevailing and the number of robocalls in the second quarter this year was 38% higher than last year; the number of imposter phone scams was also 28% higher.
You received a call at 9 in the evening. It sounded official. Caller said he’s working with the power of an attorney and is affiliated with a credit bureau. He went on to saying that you are committing a crime by not paying the debt and threatened you with lawsuits and arrests.
Now he starts to harass you and calls even at work, giving complete information about you and your family!
Yes, it’s just a bluff. These scammers don’t have any power over you. You are just one of the many targets, just like our fellow tellows users below who also experienced the same thing.
But before we give you our top 3, here are some tips on how you can protect yourself against debt collection scams:
Let’s try to review the facts and take a look at some important guidelines set by the Federal Communications Commission on telemarketing and autodialers.
1. Telemarketers are REQUIRED to give his or her name, company, telephone number or address where he or she can be contacted. You should expect these details on the initial part of the call.
In the tellows Call Guideline, you are given a script with a set of questions which you can use to verify information about the telemarketer.
2. No phone solicitation/ telemarketing is allowed before 8 am or after 9 pm.
3. As soon as you ask the telemarketer to include you in the do-not-call list, they should comply and you shouldn’t be receiving any more calls from them! At least for the next 5 years (read below).
4. The telemarketer must honor your do-not-call request for five years and you must repeat your request once you get the same call after the period.
I remember this Hollywood film Compliance, I couldn’t sleep after watching it. It’s about this prank caller who phoned the manager of a fast food chain and introduced himself as a police officer. He asked the manager to strip search one of her female employees because she allegedly stole something. The manager believed it and followed everything the caller asked her to do. The scam call ended up as a sexual harassment case. This film is based on a true story and apparently, there were over 70 similar incidents that already occurred in 30 U.S. States.
After seeing this movie, you will never again talk to strangers! Yes, we’ve heard that from our mothers when we were kids, but still, this comes in handy every time we face the dangerous world out there.
Based on true accounts of our tellows users, our top three for the week go like this: 1) caller tells you they found your lost debit card and then will ask you to confirm the number to them, the next thing you knew, they’re already using your debit card number for different transactions; 2) scam call pretending to be a representative of Nova Scotia informing you that you just won a free cruise but they first need your bank account details to make sure that they are talking to the right person; 3) another Caribbean spam caller, this time from Montserrat.
Oh well, Christmas rush is over and scammers are back to business. You still have this hangover from the long holiday break and yet these bogus numbers are back and ready to terorrize people again.
Our top 3 hardworking prank callers for the week include the „court action for bank fraud“ number, the computer guy claiming that he is from microsoft, and the boring „not in service“ phoneline.
This week’s batch all want your card details if the truth be told. Fight back by quite simply not giving them up. Here are some sneaky new adversaries on the scene to look out for…
A new entrant to the IRS scam arena (someone stop these guys already!) is 5303802641. Highly active within the last week, they’ve got a tellows score of 7 (possibly due to one misunderstanding of the scoring system – remember, 1 means TRUSTWORTHY!) and have no respect for public holidays!
Dan’s got his detective hat on…
This dumb scammer calls me on Thanksgiving day pretending to be an IRS lawyer claiming that I have an ‘Tax deficiency’ issue. What kind of idiot will believe an IRS lawyer works on Thanksgiving day and will call his ‘client’??
Very true. People calling you out of the blue about a ‘legal issue’ is more often than not quite fishy!
On the other end of the credibility spectrum is the gentleman (note the irony) calling from 3362286986. This is a guy who ostensibly really takes offence to non-credit-card-owners; he really flies off the handle if you don’t give him the answer he’s looking for. We’re not sure if he’s working ‘freelance’ or is part of a larger agency but he intersperses his survey questions with other, rather inappropriate enquiries.
Darron indignantly tell us about his experience…
I finally picked up from this number and some guy wouldn’t tell me who or where he was calling from. then I asked to be taken off his calling list and was then called several names and asked to give him a kiss. he said are you drunk? he really irritated me do not listen to him!!!!!
Cold-call flirting is a new one on us but this is exactly what this guy is doing… Albeit ineptly. And angrily.
Check out the link above for a few more entertaining stories.
With a tellows score of 8, 8608227440 is offering ‘better credit card rates’ and has absolutely no explanation of how it’s doing so.
Luckily, Aurora recognised the call for what it was…
The caller talked about better interest for my credit card and wanted to have my credit card number…I left her waiting until she hung up. As if anybody would fall for that kind of scam
…well someone must be if they’re still doing it! If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it weekly, DON’T give your card details out willy-nilly!
Keep your heads up, block those numbers and report them on tellows and we’ll be back with more nerve-grating numbers next week!
Your tellows team
The crème de la crème of cunning crooks and crafty con artists have been leading US citizens a merry dance with their latest scheme: using the Internal Revenue Service’s caller ID to make threatening calls demanding that their victims pay their ‘overdue tax’. In the aftermath of the initial bombshell, the caller will casually request that the tax be paid via debit card or a wire transfer, both methods conspicuous by their untraceability.
You may think that this scam is clumsy and glaringly obvious. As we’re about to demonstrate, we’ve seen numerous instances of badly executed IRS impersonations in the past: heavy accents, threadbare information about their potential victims and a habit of dropping the phone like it’s hot when the victims press for information…
User Dumbo proved himself not very dumb at all when he received a call from 5302385813:
A man with a thick accent said his name barely audible and claimed to be from the IRS and said that this call was regarding some debt I allegedly had. He got very rude and threatened to freeze my accounts and credit cards. The thing is, I don’t have any debt and I’m VERY sure of it. So I told him not to call anymore and, still hearing his protests through the phone, I just hung up.
‘Xaviera’, meanwhile, was pestered by 7165757391:
I was called three times in 2 hours. Each time they claimed to be IRS and they said something about taxes or debts, I didn’t really get it because he had an indian accent. Anyway, firstly I know for sure that the IRS won’t call people, it will use the US Mail service to reach the person they want. So their claim is false. And second, they wanted to talk to a different person and I told them each time that I’m not the one they’re looking for. I was informed that it didn’t matter. Now that’s a trustworthy business…
Very savvy, guys. Hang in there: we’re proud of you.
However, these guys have gone the extra step. Not only are they calling from what appears to be the IRS’s bona fide number (spoofed, naturally), they also somehow know the last 4 digits of your social security number and make it a royal flush with staff names, badge numbers and often emails with the IRS logo and format.
But they don’t even draw the line there! We covered the worrying rise in number-spoofing in a previous blog, “Who Spoofed the Sheriff?”: fraudsters can make use of technology that masks their real caller ID and replaces it either with a nonsense number (000-000-0000 being a favourite), or (oh the audacity!) the caller ID of a publicly recognised establishment. If you don’t comply, or seem doubtful, the guys behind the IRS scam will proceed to follow up the call with further harassment from the police or the Department of Motor Vehicles; number-spoofing is child’s play to these guys so prepare for a barrage of calls, all ostensibly from the correct caller IDs. Armed with this facade of legitimacy and threats of arrest, deportation or confiscation of your business or driving licence, they’ll have you listening.
However, as always, we urge you to BE WARY! IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel stresses that in the first instance, notification about due tax will in most cases be sent in the mail. Payment will be requested via cheques or bank transfers, never wire transfers or debit card! Moreover, they are an independent body and do not act in conjunction with state police or other organisations.
If you receive an unprompted call claiming to be from the IRS, we advise you to call them directly on 800-829-1040. You can also wise up using the official IRS ‘scam-alert’ web page. In the meantime, keep searching and reporting numbers on tellows and give each other a hand in the fight against scam callers!
‘Til next time,
Your Tellows Team
Greetings from tellows HQ!
The seasons may change but nuisance callers are still a nuisance. Here are our picks of the week.
The first batch of crooks in our line-up are calling from 3605391729 posing as Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU), informing you that your card has been ‘limited’ (whatever that means). They don’t send you your whole card number via text, they just include the first four digits, which they are able to guess due to your neighbourhood, apparently. The plan then seems to be that you call back and confirm those all-important card details!
I got this text message: “WSECU NOTICE: Your CARD (first 4 digits of my debit card #) has been LlMITED. Please call 360-539-1729” ….. so I’m like, this must be genuine, they have my card details! but I spoke with WSECU and apparently they’re ripping off people by using standard debit card prefixes of certain areas. I guess you’re supposed to confirm your card details when you call them back. BE CAREFUL GUYS!!!
The next caller is not so ingenious – just infuriating. 5129553173 has been reported as harassment calls and is taking it to another level. We’ve heard of aggressive telemarketers but user kirkwork reports:
I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW MANY TIMES THESE IDIOTS HAVE CALLED ME!! It’s like 20 times in 10 minutes! I swear I’m just going to bury my cell in my backyard!
Burying your cell may seem like a viable solution but we do suggest blocking them first.
Last up are these audacious payday loan sharks on 7146023772 hoping to snap up a couple of gullible fish.
They called me yesterday evening and told me that I´m was being sued for a 2011 Payday Loan. I can´t believe it. They have a lot of information about me (age, adress, name)
Susan N, meanwhile, was told that
APPARENTLY I could only settle this formal financial issue by purchasing a Green Dot card
Remember, with debt collectors, to wait for formal documentation. Keep calm and don’t forward any money until you are absolutely sure of their identity, particularly if they’re asking you for payment via unorthodox methods like Green Dot cards or obscure transfer companies.
That’s it for this week! Keep a sharp eye and have a super week!
Your tellows team
Howdy friends of tellows!
We have a mixed bag of callers for you this week; from the serious to just plain outlandish, our ‘wanted’ list always has contenders jostling for that Most Annoying award.
First up is a scam that’s becoming increasingly popular across the United States: the ‘you got served!’ call. Calling from LA on 2132609423, this fella’s not got the scam down to a fine art just yet…
User hal_t recounts:
some guy has called me literally EVERY. DAY. for the last two weeks telling me he’s bringing round legal papers and I’m getting ‘served’. not been served yet bro…
There unfortunately are more tenacious tricksters out there, who have successfully convinced US citizens that there is a warrant for their arrest out that they can buy their way out of for a couple of thousand dollars. Now, not only is it not possible to get ‘served’ over the phone, it is highly suspect that somebody would ask you to pay your way out of it without showing you any kind of documentation. Don’t let the fear surprise you out of your senses.
Second on the list, 9164698829, tries a similar tack, though much more aggressively. According to our heatmap, the perpetrators are based in Sacramento, CA, and try to accuse you, under a variety of aliases, of owing huge debts.
flynn099, who received a call from a ‘George Belowski’, was having none of it…
THREATENED US WITH A YEAR LONG PRISON SENTENCE FOR BANK ISSUES??? REAL HEAVY INDIAN ACCENT, TOLD US HE WAS FILING THE CLAIM IN AN HOUR!!!! MY FINANCES ARE TOTALLY CLEAR, THIS IS A MASSIVE SCAM!
Like flynn, you too should always be suspicious of an unprompted and unjustified phonecalls about your finances.
Last but not least is prankster and presumably Pitt-fan 8137936945, calling from Clearwater, FL. Witty user ‘monkeyingaround’ could fortunately see the funny side of the call, which cross-referenced more popular culture than your average chain-yanking caller…
‘Tyler Durden’ called me then proceeded to reference 12 Monkeys. Points for originality but stop pranking me!!!
Well, it takes all sorts folks…
Have a great week and stay cellphone-savvy!
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