In today’s post, I wanted to pass on some information about the growing phone scams going on, how to spot them and some resources to fight back (report) and be more informed. These scams are a form of “Social Engineering” (see last section).
I had also done a recent blog on a “Fake Dell Support scam” and Social Engineering: See that Blog at: http://www.rdcets.com/blog/?p=2703
Now that we are in tax season, the IRS phone scams are more popular than ever. Phone scams also include: fake arrest warrant has been issued threat, computer has a virus, you have won a sweepstakes and others. I have seen an uptick in such scams reported by my friends, family and some business clients.
I also get them, on my home landline (left on answering machine) with all kinds of scams. Usually, the IRS is after me and must call right away to “take care of”. It is urgent, I must call them back, that day, they say of course. Or some other crazy, warrant issued and call officer to “take care of”. Of course, it is urgent that I call right away. One problem, the IRS will never call you or ask for payment in this way (see below resources).
When I get such calls, I report them to the FTC, to help shut them down, and hope they catch these slimy criminals. I know they are scams, and get a good laugh on their pathetic attempt to rip me off. But others, are and can be fooled and so education is important and reporting, when you can is a good thing. They especially like to prey on the elderly, which is a special type of evil in my book.
Fun with scammers:
When my Dad, who is retired, gets the call “I am from Microsoft, and your computer has viruses” and must act now to fix he likes to have some fun with them and mess them. I really get a kick out of his stories on these calls and how he wastes their time till they figure out he is messing with them. But once again, they do fool people and scam them.
Some of my Dad’s “mess with them” methods: The “we have reports of viruses coming form your computer scam”. He goes along and says he is typing all the commands they tell him (he is not) and, says he is elderly and can’t hear so well to make them repeat a bunch of times. After several minutes, they say “what are you seeing on your screen”. My Dad: “Mickey Mouse!”. They hang up angrily. LOL!
Or For the “$7,000 Government grant call, that is coming to them” scam. My Dad: Why are we going to get this grant? Scammer: “Because you are such good tax payers” (actual reply by scammers). My Dad: Which government, “London or Washington?”. That throws them for a while, before they say “Washington”. That goes on for a while before they figure out they are being messed with.
How the scammers get their money:
They typically, for the IRS scam, will have you “pay the fine” and wire them funds, buy a prepaid debit card, at the local store, and send it to them etc..
The you’ve won the sweepstakes, lottery, grant, etc. scam has you send them funds to allow them to “release your winning” check etc..
For the you have a Virus scam: They will have you buy worthless programs and get your CC number to charge, or other methods to charge you once or on a yearly basis, etc..
An IRS Phone scam I got this week
So, this week, I got an IRS phone scam. The caller, in a heavy foreign accent, said “I am Officer Mark Watson” from the IRS and we have warrant on your address” and other such crap. He then instructed me to call back, the same day to take care of. I googled his phone number (CA based area code) and name “Mark Watson IRS Scam” and got hits from 2013 for the “Office Mark Watson from IRS scam”. Maybe, they should freshen up their fake IRS Officer names. Pretty lazy, by the “big bosses” running this scam.
For fun, I have uploaded this call to hear the pathetic scam they are pulling. I then used the resources below to report them. Hope “Officer Mark Watson” meets a “real Officer” soon!
Scammers, are like old school con men. I find the very good AMC show “Better Call Saul” (Breaking Bad spin off) pretty entertaining for the demonstration of the small cons “Jimmy McGill” sometimes runs. See the Social Engineering section, for more on this aspect.
Below are some good resources on the common phone scams, how to spot them, and what to do if you get these calls. These sites have links to more resources and how to report the scams. I have listed the steps to report the “Fake IRS agent called” scam I got and reported in a few minutes.
More information on Scams and how to report
IRS Phone Scams – Dirty Dozen 2016:
Government Impostor Scams:
Report the complaint:
For phone scam at the site:
Choose “Scam and Rip-Offs” on the left side col. -> Imposter Scams –> Phone ->
Telemarketing complaint (no) -> Pretend to be Employee of Local, State or Federal Government.
Now just put in date, type of contact (landline phone in this case, or cell, or email, etc.).
Put in your name a few pieces of info. then forward thru to type up note of call and provide the
Caller ID and the phone number they left.
National Do Not Call Registry (add your phones to this to help prevent telemarketers from calling). Will not stop scammers, but will stop some telemarketers who do not want to get a fine for calling if you report them:
1) Submit a Complaint
2) Verify a Registration
3) Register a Phone number
Social Engineering – Applies to both Business and personal life
Social Engineering is the art of manipulating people to scam them to achieve their malicious goals. This of course, is not new, but the scammers are getting better, and using technology more than ever, to achieve this.
The scams could be getting the person to grant them access to their computer, get CC or other key banking etc. information, get company directory information to allow further reconnaissance for an attack later, asking a front desk person to plug in a USB stick with a resume on it (that deploys a Trojan Virus), and many other techniques.
Employees, can be a companies weakest link against such attacks, so being on guard and educating are key. The best IT security programs can be defeated using such techniques and they work.
More Info. on RD Cutting Edge Tech Services:
Please see RD Cutting Edge Tech Solutions Home and Small Business Services and Products pages for more information on all our computer services including:
Supporting your small or medium business IT needs, setup the most advanced, and affordable, business Next Generation Firewalls with VPN Servers and Next Gen IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) systems, Security protection against Malware (Virus, Trojans, Ad-ware Spyware, etc.), Mobile Security (Android in particular to prevent Malware), Mobile Device Management (MDM for iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.), Vulnerability Management (VM) and Patch Management, setup Full Disk Encryption (FDE) on your computers, etc.. Employee education against “Social Engineering” attacks (manipulating people for malicious goals).
Also, we can review and setup local or cloud based backups, set up Wi-Fi in your home or business, set up iCloud and iTunes Match for all your Apple devices, Macs (Yosemite 10.10 upgrades), PCs and Apple TV. I can provide a free estimate, if you complete the free estimate form, or give me a call.
I can also help you choose the best Computer, Server, Smartphone or tablet for your Home or Small Business use. I can also help you get the most out of your Smartphone or tablet for work or home use.