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Latest phone scam targets your bank account

Denial-of-service attacks – when computer hackers take down websites by flooding them with large amounts of traffic – are being transferred to telephones.

IMG_6781 You get hundreds or thousands of calls on your home, business, or cell phone, tying up the lines. When you answer, you hear anything from dead air to recorded messages, advertisements, or even phone sex menus.

It could be a sign that you’re being victimized by a ”telephone denial-of-service attack“ that’s targeting your bank accounts, reports the FBI.

While the lines are tied up, the criminals – masquerading as the victims themselves – are raiding the victims’ bank accounts and online trading or other money management accounts.

Here’s how it works:
  • Weeks or months before the phone calls start, a criminal uses social engineering tactics or malware to elicit personal information from a victim that his or her bank or financial institution would have – such as account numbers and passwords. Or maybe the victim responded to a bogus e-mail phishing for information, inadvertently gave out sensitive information during a phone call, or put too much personal information on social networking sites that are trolled by criminals.
  • The criminal ties up the victim’s various phone lines, using technology such as automatic dialing systems.
  • The criminal either contacts the financial institution pretending to be the victim or pilfers the victim’s online bank accounts using fraudulent transactions. Usually, the institution calls to verify the transactions, but they can’t get through to the victim over the phone because the line is jammed.
  • The criminals sometimes re-contact the financial institution as the victim if the transactions aren’t made, and ask for it to be done. Or they add their own phone number to victims’ accounts and just wait for the bank to call.
It’s too late by the time the victim or the financial institution realize what happened.

A Florida dentist lost $400,000 from his retirement account after a denial-of-service attack on his phones.

As of April, there has been a noticeable increase in these attacks, with numerous incidents reported in several Eastern states.

The FBI recommends consumers take these precautions:
  • Never give out personal information to an unsolicited phone caller or via e-mail.
  • Change online banking and automated telephone system passwords frequently.
  • Check your account balances often.
  • Protect your computers with the latest virus protection and security software.
If you think you may have been targeted by a telephone denial-of-service attack, contact your financial institution and your telephone provider, and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Thanks to ConsumerAffairs.com for posting a link about these telephone attacks.

Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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