Almost Scammed

visa logoThe most clever people on the Internet are the social engineers who work hard convincing you to willingly give up your security info. I had a run-in with them tonight. The call came on my cellphone from an 888 number.

First things first. When the Caller ID standard was established, pre-Internet, pre-VOIP, it was left insecure! As you’ve probably noticed, making up a phony number appear on your phone is no problem.

I answered the call and was greeted by the most robotic, lifeless, computerized voice I’ve ever heard. VISA, Inc. was calling, or so the voice said. My debit card’s use was being restricted for Internet and online purchases unless I pressed “1” to verify information or called the VISA security department.

The option for me to call VISA is an integral part of the scam. It adds a sliver of legitimacy to the call.

I stood there for a moment, staring at my phone. I was perplexed and confused. The call was almost legitimate enough for me to act.

I hung up.

I’m going to place a lot of the blame for this on the credit card company’s themselves. They have legitimized this kind of interaction by heavily leaning on automated systems like the one the scammers use. We are conditioned to believe credit card companies will call without human involvement or with obviously non-American voices.

We are used to calls where no questions can be asked!

A few minutes later Helaine’s cell rang. She, Stef and I all have six of the seven digits the same. The automated system was just dialing in sequence one at-a-time.

A quick Google search of the phone number shows others getting this call within the last two days. My guess is the number is changed often to keep from being blocked.

People are the weakest part of the security equation. We want to believe authority. We have a weakness for social engineering.

12 thoughts on “Almost Scammed”

  1. If you suspect this, have some fun with it. when it asks for your credit card number give it the first 4 then make stuff up for the rest and a made-up expiration. somewhere someone is going to try and use it and get a little sad when it gets rejected.

  2. The even have people calling in claiming to be from “The Credit Card Company”. I tell them I have no credit cards with that company and they hang up.

  3. I love to harass the Robocallers, but they’re immune to FTC threats (I have reported one and they keep calling, probably because they can’t be traced); they never take you off their robo-lists; and they’re quick to hang up once they realize you’re yanking their chains. Cathartic nonetheless.
    There’s the ring. You pick up. Nothing. Hello? Finally The Voice kicks in. I say, “If you’re gonna harass me, at least be there when I pick up the phone.” Click.
    Apparently the Do Not Call List is defunct.

  4. I actually complained to my Congressman about the alleged “No Call List” in December and was told there was nothing that can be done. Hey, Representative Courtney, I have a few suggestions but you forgot to ask! We’ve gotten AT LEAST 18 calls from different numbers — none of which work when you call them back because they are all “disconnected” — and with staff who hang up on you when you remind them you are on the Federal No Call list. All of them reference the same security monitoring company (GE) and “crime statistics” for our area. Didn’t seem to matter to the Congressman’s staff that the automated part of the calls use language that is deliberately targeting the elderly. I am not, but my mother is, and it was interesting when I got called by her name, especially since the phone is in MINE.

  5. Register all your phones on the National Do Not Call Registry- its good for ~5 yrs. If you get solicitation calls, you advise them to remove your number and that it is registered. If they call again file a report on the Registry web site- they get fined $1,000 each time. I had a company that was persistent and after about the third time I reported them, it stopped.

  6. If you are on the Do Not Call Registry, the only people that will call you are scammers. Most legitimate companies will follow the DNC list faithfully.

    I got a new phone number last year and immediately put it on the DNC list. within 2 months the only calls I am getting now are the scammers.

    If you get a scammer call, have fun with them. I had one guy last week ask my about my Windows computer, when I asked which one, he repeated “the Windows Computer”. When I told him I had 7 computers he asked if I was a business and I said yes. He immediately hung up.
    So have fun with the scammer call. They can’t talk to anybody else while you jerking their chain.

  7. The telephone companies are complicit in these scams. They derive revenue from the calls and have no motive to assist you other than charging you to add Call-blocking that I can get from Google Voice for free. A few months back I received a text welcoming me to some gossip news texting service. I responded with Unsubscribe but was billed for joining it the following month. When I called AT&T, they suggested I probably entered my number on a web site. I told him I didn’t visit gossip sites and only used my Google Voice number online. They eventually credited me but the only thing they would do to stop it from happening again was to block all purchases to my numbers. so if this company gave them 10,000 subscribe claims and only 10% didn’t notice, the fraudulent biller gets $10,000 less the fee the phone company gets and nobody investigates.

  8. And people wonder why I don’t answer my phone…
    Actually I can’t answer my phone because the darn thisng isn’t working any more. The Comcast modem for phone/internet died a couple of MONTHS ago and I haven’t been able to get it replaced, mostly because I work 10 hour days and I’m never home during ‘normal business hours’.
    The scams I get the biggest kick out of are the email ones, especially the ones that claim they’re from the FBI, I forward those……to the FBI.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *