Monday, May 13, 2013

Gone Phishing

Over the past few weeks I have received numerous strange calls on my cell phone.  These calls are all coming from the same 800 number and a little research indicates that I am not the only one getting these irritating and potentially malicious calls.   The calls are coming from 800-754-0961.  After about the tenth call that I ignored (you have to give them an “A” for effort) I decided to do some investigation.  What I found is that it is a “phishing” scam. 

If you should answer this call or place a call to this number you will be connected with an automated system identified as “Verizon Wireless.”  It should be identified as “Joe’s Bait Shop and Phishing Emporium.”

Phishing is attempting, via some electronic means, to get personal information such as passwords, credit card details, social security account numbers and even cash by masquerading as a trustworthy company or service.  This “Verizon” scam seems to have been around for a while.  I guess it took them a while to find my number.

Calling or answering a call from this number will present you with a very professional greeting indicating that you have reached Verizon Wireless.  You are immediately asked for some personal information such as the last four digits of your social security number or the password for your Verizon Account.  You are invited to make a payment by entering you credit card number.  All of this is bogus.

If you pay your Verizon bill by credit card they already have that information.  Same for the account password.  No legitimate company will ever ask you for your password on the phone. You already know it and so do they, so why would they ask?

I talked to Verizon this week and they confirm that this 800 number is not connected with the company.  A quick search of the web will show that this scam has indeed been around for several years and seems to ebb and flow over time.

The lesson here is to be very careful to whom you provide information.  For example, in one call the “phisherman” may just ask for the last four digits of your Social Security Card.  Two weeks later he might ask for the first six digits.  Voila….they have it all.

When communicating over the phone with a company or service be sure that you are indeed talking to that company.  If you are in doubt, hang up and place a call to the company using a telephone number that is verifiably one that the company really uses.  These numbers can be found on your bill.  When in doubt hang up.  If they have a legitmate reason to contact you, they will get in touch with you.

I  have a complete guide to Phishing scams.  To get a copy just call me at 800-555-5555 and give me your credit card info, your social security number, your bank routing number and account information.  Oh yes, I will also need your mother’s maiden name.

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