If you’re only a pseudo-programmer, or even just been surfing the web ever since its waves started riding in, you know all about the kinds of Internet con games that can seduce many net novices. It’s not just that you can discern the typically poorly translated and inconsistent language used in most phishing schemes; you know the capabilities these predators have. Attempts at information superhighway robbery are for the most part lost on you, so instead you make it a mission to tell all the older people in your family with computers to not bother responding to that dethroned prince’s email.
But these crooks are onto you. That is, they know you and others like you thwart their efforts by spreading awareness to friends and relatives about sketchy emails asking for bank information or credit card numbers. Like any primordial creature obsessed with only the task of preserving its own skin, these people evolve their tactics to survive. These days they’ve perfected their technique to include traditionally trusted modes of communication like the telephone.
This new scam is called vishing. It combines the strategy of the phishing game with the trustworthiness of the landline telephone. Criminal networks from around the world spend considerable time getting a hold of finance information from specific institutions and creating a voicemail that will be left en masse on thousands of home phones. They may steal a databank of phone numbers, perform a reverse directory search, cross reference the resulting list of names, and find the information they’ll use to bait in the ensuing phone call. It’s not out of the ordinary for one of these networks to collect tens of thousands of files from multiple institutions in a single day. If they can execute a successful scam on just a few of them, they could conceivably steal tens of thousands of dollars in one 24-hour period.
I can’t say I can tell you how to catch these creeps out right, but you can continue the awareness campaign and just update the protocol. These people will typically try and call from a number that appears legitimate; to convince the potential victim the call is really coming from a trusted institution like a credit card company’s headquarters or even a local bank. Inform your friends and relatives about reverse phone lookup, a service readily available online, that allows you to search the listed name and address of an unknown number. If they have any doubt as to whether a phone call is really coming from a bank or otherwise, they should get online and run the number through the same system these crooks use to find their information.
As long as people like you continue to spread the word, the word is going to have to change with the ever evolving tactics that come about. Predators don’t give up easily. Be a good game warden and don’t give up either.