New phone scam targets seniors

Post-holiday bills bring extra financial pressures on everyone…even crooks. There’s a new hybrid scam called “spearfishing” that targets seniors with robo-calls or in-person phone scammers claiming to be from doctors, hospitals, insurers, Social Security, or banks. The FTC issued this advisory.

“I’m calling from [pick any bank]. Someone’s been using your debit card ending in 2345 at [pick any retailer]. I’ll need to verify your Social Security number — which ends in 8190, right? — and full debit card information so we can stop this unauthorized activity…”

So the caller ID shows the name of your bank. And the caller knows some of your personal details. Does that mean it’s legit? No. It’s a scam —and scammers are counting on the call being so unsettling that you might not stop to check your bank statement.

We’ve started hearing about phone scams like this, which combine two scammer tricks: spear phishing and caller ID spoofing. In a phishing attempt, scammers may make it look like they’re from a legitimate company. And when they call or email with specific details about you — asking you to verify the information in full (things like your Social Security number or address) —that’s called spear phishing.

The other nasty wrinkle in this scam is caller ID spoofing. That’s when scammers fake their caller ID to trick you into thinking the call is from someone you trust.

Here’s how you can avoid these scam tactics:

  • Don’t assume your caller ID is proof of whom you’re dealing with. Scammers can make it look like they’re calling from a company or number you trust.
  • If you get a phone call, email, or text from someone asking for your personal information, don’t respond. Instead, check it out using contact info you know is correct.
  • Don’t trust someone just because they have personal information about you. Scammers have ways of getting that information.
  • If you gave a scammer your information, go to IdentityTheft.gov. You’ll learn what to do if the scammer made charges on your accounts.

Even if you didn’t give personal information to the scammer, report the scam to the FTC. Your reports help us understand what’s happening and can lead to investigations and legal action to shut scammers down.

Photo; Rawpixel for Unsplash
3 comments
  • jan Bolyard
    REPLY

    Watch out for scammers saying your computer is broken they will fix it. They are relentless,! They try to make you think they are on your side. What they do is with your help get in your computer. they don’t give up! They call. send emails etc . It sounds like they are on the up and up Their not! If senior planet would look into this and warn people it might help someone not get scammed by these low life scammers!

  • Miki Davis
    REPLY

    The scammers are getting smarter! They can get the last 4 digits of your SS card just about anywhere … it’s the first 5 numbers they need to complete the full set and those are rarely if ever anywhere but on your SS card! Never, Never, Ever give them those first 5 numbers. Get a phone number and ask if you can call them back. If not, hang up!! Same with your credit/debit card.
    Don’t fall for any of these tricks. Call your bank and check to see what’s going on and tell them what is happening with your scam call!
    Don’t let them get away with this.

  • s leelike
    REPLY

    my comment is that aarp is a good place to start to organize seniors against
    all the issues that are special to them.

    mailings and/or calls that seem to come from medicare with medical device approval
    from computer repair places that are closing and you will lose your refund
    a special rate at a bank that has a deadline of now
    any other pressure call that sounds fake or too good to be true
    along with issues of access to facilities
    small or white on yellow type
    and other deceptive practices targeting seniors

    there are enough sharks out there to emphasize the need for organizing to pressure government and law enforcement to take action more and more obvious

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