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Scams Abound, Exploiting Holiday Buying Concerns

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December 16, 2021

By Dean Gallea–

A rash of phone-based scams is hitting mobile and landline phones around the area. Scores of local residents on neighborhood sharing sites like Nextdoor have reported getting the unusually-slick calls from criminal operations posing as banking institutions like Citibank and Chase.

One call received by this reporter displayed a seemingly-legitimate Caller ID with the bank name and an 800 number. A professional-sounding recording claimed that someone had made a suspicious transaction amounting to over $1100 and for “authentication” requested my bank account, credit card or Social Security number. An “agent” reached on the call told me I’d have to install a specific app on my mobile phone to continue. (I do not have an active account from the bank.)

  • LOOK Cinemas Dobbs Ferry
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This is a type of “phishing” scam, the name implying that the scammer is “fishing” for your personal account information that can be either used to directly steal your money or sold on the “dark web” to criminals. It’s likely that the app they want you to install would give them direct access to your phone, with all its stored information!

The best defense against phishing is wariness on your part:

  • Don’t consider any information in a caller ID as real – it’s easily faked, as least until new technology is adopted by carriers that verify a call’s true source [ https://www.fcc.gov/spoofinghttps://www.fcc.gov/call-authentication ]
  • Realize that a financial institution calling you to verify an actual compromised account or credit card will not start with a recorded message, nor will they ask you to install an app
  • A babble of voices in the background is a signal that you’re speaking to someone in a fraudulent “boiler-room” operation.
  • Never provide a full account number or a PIN – though banks often ask for the last four digits of your card for verification legitimately.
  • If you speak to a person on the call, ask them to give you a phone number to call them back, or call the one on the back of a credit card for your bank.
  • Remember that all major credit card carriers have policies that shield you from financial loss due to fraud

Also be wary of email-based phishing attempts to glean personal information as well. Hover your mouse over (or long-press on) any web links to see the actual underlying web address, and examine the part just before the “.com”, to make sure it matches the company you expect. For banks, always log into your account separately from any links in email. And never open email attachments you didn’t expect to receive.

The U. S. FBI office has more info, and a means to report scams and fraud: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety

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