Concept of hacking or phishing with malware program

According to Pew Internet Research, 68 percent of mobile phone users receive unwanted sales and marketing calls with one-quarter saying they encounter this problem at least a few times a week or more frequently. Clearly, call and text spam is a pervasive and growing problem in the United States.

Scam, spam and fraudulent calls and texts are sent from a rapidly changing pool of phone numbers, with new ones showing up every minute due to phone spoofing and other tactics that make suspicious activity difficult to identify. In addition to using mobile apps like Whitepages Caller ID, we suggest the following tips to “can the spam”:

· Hang up immediately. If you get a call from a government agency asking for a payment, hang up. No one from a federal government agency will call you randomly looking for a payment, even the IRS. The same goes for a call from someone saying you’ve won a sweepstakes; odds are you did not, and if you did, they can send you something in writing.

· Don’t call a suspicious number back. In the case of the “One Ring Scam”, the number looks similar to a number from the United States, but in fact is from the Caribbean and is not legitimate.  These scammers use phone numbers that issue additional charges to the bill of the incoming caller – most of the time consumers are unaware of the charges and they can add up very quickly.

· Never provide credit card information or any specific personal identification, like a social security number, to a caller that you do not know personally, even if you are familiar with the business they say they are from. Recent scams include calls that spoof energy companies and Microsoft technical support, for example.

· Do not pay money up front if you have been contacted about winning a contest or being accepted for a new insurance policy. For legitimate offers, an upfront payment is generally not required.

· Report suspicious numbers to help others avoid threats. Whitepages offers consumers the ability to report spam phone numbers through its Caller ID app as well as at Whitepages.com.

 

 

 

Fingerprint access

Last week I discussed how mobile phone numbers are coming to represent the identity of the user. One related topic I found fascinating is the Indian Identity Project. The Indian Identity Project, or Aadhaar, is an ambitious project to provide a digital identity for every Indian citizen, members of the second most populous nation at 1.2B people.  Over 400 million Indians live at what is known as the “bottom of the pyramid” or under $2 per day.  For these Indians, poverty has kept them out of many institutions and the general prosperity of the Indian economy.

The idea behind Aadhaar is very similar to the social security number in the U.S. except that it uses modern technology such as biometrics, smartphones and cloud computing.  Each person gets an iris scan, fingerprint scan, photo and a 12-digit identity number.  The images are stored digitally and can be easily retrieved to identify people with basic smartphone technology. The benefits of a digital identity are numerous.  It helps people get bank accounts, book tickets online and maintain health records. Plus there are no cards, which are usually counterfeited or stolen.  Because identity based on biometrics cannot be faked, Aadhaar can also be used to ensure those eligible to receive government assistance receive their full benefits without the middlemen who often take a significant cut of money and rations meant to help the poor.

Aadhaar is the largest and most ambitious project of its kind.  While the idea of a centrally maintained identity database based on biometrics would make privacy advocates in Western countries cringe, the program has widespread support amongst the general public. The benefits of a digital identity, available “anywhere, anytime, any way,” is seen as a means to participate in the economy and be recognized by institutions.

The project hit a speed bump in 2013 when the BJP government was elected to power.  Because Aadhaar was started by the previous administration of the Congress party, many in the new government wanted to cancel the program.  Thanks to Arvind Gupta, Technology and Innovation Head of the BJP, and others who faced political headwinds, the program kept going.  How the Indian Identity Project progresses and the value it creates for its citizens will be closely watched at Whitepages where a real identity for everyone in the world is our central mission.

 

Shakespeare, Mark Twain and others have said: “The clothes make the man.” When it comes to famous names in fashion, we think of iconic designers like Chanel, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, Vera Wang, the recently passed Oscar de la Renta and more – all household names.

So as the season finale for “Project Runway” comes near, looking at our Names database, we asked: “Does a name make a designer?”

We decided to look at the popularity of the names of the hosts, judges, and finalists of this season of Project Runway and ask: Do you think a person’s name helps them “make it work”?

Heidi Klum:

Heidi Klum

Heidi Klum

Only 1 person in the U.S. claims to have this “angelic” name.

Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn

There are 42 people in the U.S.with this name, but only one with a “Tim Gunn Save”.

Nina Garcia

Nina Garcia

Nina Garcia

276 people share this fashion arbiter’s name in the U.S., the most living in Texas.

Zac Posen

Zac Posen

Zac Posen

3 people in the U.S. share the name of Lena Dunham’s childhood babysitter.

Michael Kors

Michael Kors

Michael Kors

Only a dozen people share the name of this American sportswear designer, who, at age 5, designed his mother’s wedding dress for her remarriage.

Charketa

Charketa Project Runway

Charketa “Char” (Photo: mylifetime.com)

There are 6 people in the U.S. with this name; nearly as unique as Char’s designs this season.

Amanda

Amanda (Photo: mylifetime.com)

Amanda (Photo: mylifetime.com)

While this finalist embraces the fashion trends of the ’70s, her name reached is peak popularity in 1987, with the most people with this name living in Kentucky.

Kini

Kini (Photo: mylifetime.com)

Kini (Photo: mylifetime.com)

His mother says Kini means “King of the Morning Star” in Hawaiian; perhaps not surprisingly, you’ll find the most of the 276 people with this name in the U.S. living in Hawaii.

Sean

Sean (Photo: mylifetime.com)

Sean (Photo: mylifetime.com)

While Sean hails from New Zealand, there are over 400,000 people with this name in the U.S., and has been consistent in popularity over the last 50 years.

 

No-Scam-Sign

I don’t think I know anyone who’d be excited to get a call from the IRS. But that being said, if I saw them ringing through on my caller ID, I would answer. I mean, wouldn’t you? A problem with our taxes is something we’re eager to get mopped up quickly because we’re all aware that the repercussions can be very serious.

Well that’s exactly the type of thinking being manipulated by one of the most pervasive phone scams of all time. If you’ve seen it in the news, then you know that the IRS Phone Scam has been going on nationally for about a year now, and it shows no sign of slowing down. The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration have received over 90,000 complaints and identified approximately 1,100 victims who have lost an estimated $5 million from these scams. If you’re saying “Yikes” right about now, then we’re on the same page. Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on with this scam and explore how to avoid these IRS impostors.

We’ll start by going through the typical way these scam calls go down. The scammer will identify her or himself as an IRS agent with a generic American name like Julie Smith or John Parker. (My personal favorites are from the scammers who took a page out of Hollywood when they picked their pseudonyms—Steve Martin and Leo DiCaprio’s “Titanic” character Jack Dawson are real examples.) The scammer will report alleged charges against you including defrauding the government, money owed for back taxes, law suits pending against the recipient, and nonpayment of taxes. But it’ll all go away if you make an immediate payment via a prepaid money card or wire transfer.

The IRS never asks for immediate payment over the phone

The IRS never asks for immediate payment over the phone

If you protest, then that’s when the threats start piling on. “You’ll go to jail,” “This will cost you thousands in legal fees,” “We’ll freeze your bank accounts,” “You’ll be deported…” The list goes on, and the tone of these scammers turns abusive fast. And while all of this seems like it should be pretty obvious that this is a hoax, the scammers do a few things that have thrown their victims for a loop:

  • They rig caller ID to show an IRS number
  • They can rattle off the last 4 digits of your SSN
  • They know some of your other contact info and will follow up with an email or more phone calls

Long story short, these IRS scammers are a real pain in the rear, but I’ve got a few tips that will keep you outsmarting them at every turn.

  1. The IRS almost never calls people about back taxes, they’d send you something in the mail.
  2. The IRS would never ask for immediate payment over the phone.
  3. The IRS would not call after normal office hours nor would they get abusive on the phone.
  4. Get yourself a caller ID service that offers spam score. Whitepages Current Caller ID shows an alert on your phone when an incoming call is suspected of spam.
  5. Perform a Reverse Phone Lookup if you feel something suspicious happening. Whitepages encourages its users to be a force in fighting spam. We have a field on every number’s page where you can leave a comment to report the number as spam.

Hopefully you won’t ever have to deal with one of these IRS scammers, but if you do, you’ll know how to handle them. And don’t forget to send the IRS a tip about them. File a complaint about an IRS scammer using the FTC Complaint Assistant.

 

We’ve got exciting news about our Android app Whitepages Current Caller ID. Say hello to our latest feature, Spam Score.

Here’s how it works. When an incoming call is suspected spam, users will be notified immediately. Then when they open the app, they will see important tidbits like the spam level based on a score of 0-10, the amount of spam reports made on the number in the last 90 days, and comments written by other Whitepages users. In addition to that, we’re also empowering Whitepages Caller ID users to warn other members of the community by leaving their own spam reports on numbers that turn out to be scammers or fraudsters. It’s an easy-to-use system that helps build a community of people who care about personal privacy and want to do a good deed in the process.

current_spam_screen (2)

At Whitepages, we worked hard to develop the most advanced spam identification system in the market. Whitepages Caller ID offers real-time analysis on billions of calls, texts and phone lookups from all of Whitepages’ 50 million users. Along with Spam Score, Whitepages Caller ID also blocks unwanted numbers from calling your Android. It’s just another way that Whitepages helps you maintain your privacy.

And in today’s world, features that put privacy back in the hands of users are more important than ever. Recent data from Whitepages Caller ID shows that approximately one out of three unknown calls are a suspected spammer. Whether that’s a marketing or sales call, or something more pervasive like the scams that emerged earlier this year, such as “One Ring,” “Grandparent’s Scam,” and the most recent “IRS Phone Scam.” By offering another layer of information on incoming calls, Whitepages Caller ID protects users and lets them know about potential spam before they take the call—and that’s something we feel pretty good about.

Check out the latest release of Whitepages Caller ID in the Google Play Store and read more about it in PandoDaily.