The world around us changes constantly and so do our efforts in protecting users from unwanted calls and text messages. Cyber criminals are constantly looking for new ways to make money and phone calls and text messages have become their new weapon of choice. Phone scammers have more tools now than just 10 years ago; calls cost almost nothing from anywhere in the world. Smartphones have replaced your home computer. Information is stored online.
In a world where everything is connected and just a tap way, fraudsters aren’t limited to tricking people into revealing personal information live on the phone anymore. They can use text messages that link to a phishing website, a tactic called smishing, Phishing websites are often impersonating banks and designed to look exactly like the actual sites of your financial institutions. Fraudsters know that on a small screen like your smartphone it is even harder to judge whether a site is legit or fraudulent. Below is an example of what you might see on a phishing website.
Some of the most recent attacks on individuals seen in the past few weeks centered around smishing campaigns against Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Discover Card clients. We also saw phishing campaigns targeting Visa card holders from a variety of financial institutions. These smishing campaigns targeted the largest, most trustworthy banks to leverage that trust against individuals. They also cast a wide and indiscriminate net, which is why some people get bogus notifications about the activation of cards from a bank they don’t use, as seen in the image below.
The phishing campaigns on Visa cards were a little less sophisticated, using more traditional means to access valuable personal and financial information. What’s notable about those attacks is the total scope. Targets included a variety of U.S. bank customers as well as Bank of Montreal, TD Bank and Scotiabank Visa cardholders in Canada as well as HSBC clients overseas.
Text messages are just one of many new ways fraudsters contact their victims. The growth in regular phone scams shows no signs of stopping. At Whitepages we not only track numbers by spam levels but also by type of phone scams they are involved in. There were for example 1,300 individual numbers involved in IRS phone scams in the month of May. Scammers use many different approaches and they aren’t just limited to banking and credit cards – however one thing is sure: they are after your money and personal information.
What you can do to protect yourself?
So, if scammers have all of these new and potentially dangerous tools and the pace of these fraud campaigns isn’t slowing down, what’s the good news? Individuals have powerful protections they can use, too. The efforts of our Phone Reputation team and the addition of NumberCop’s technology to Whitepages’ existing resources means we’re focusing even more on keeping individuals safe from dangerous scams and frauds. Specifically, we’re focusing on tracking threat patterns and themes to better identify and forecast rising threats, giving you a very high level of protection.
How can you stop the influx of potentially dangerous scams and phishing attempts?
Whitepages Caller ID app for Android doesn’t just tell you who’s calling or texting and if that contact is likely a spammer, it also includes call blocking and reporting features that maximize privacy and help keep scam artists from reaching others. Our fraud prevention efforts extend to Whitepages Reverse Phone Lookup, where you can type in an unrecognized number and see reports of suspicious activity.