Phone Scams You Need to Look Out For

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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.
Smishing-Image

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.
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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.
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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.

What does FCC Decision Mean for Annoying Robocalls?

FCC-Robocalls-Blog

We all hate intrusive, unwanted calls, especially annoying robocalls, right? But is it really possible to avoid them? You may have seen the news from the FCC that customers can now ask carriers to block illegal robocalls and spam messages for them. Read on as we break down the ruling and offer some suggestions about how you can protect yourself from those unwanted calls.

Now You Can Block Those Annoying Robocalls

The FCC decision essentially said that customers can ask their phone carrier to block illegal robocalls and spam texts for them and that the carriers are legally able to do so. This sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, If you still have a landline phone hanging on the wall in your kitchen, you’ll get a big benefit from the FCC decision to approve robocall blocking. Now you can request that your phone carrier block all calls that start from an automatic dialier (or robodialer). But since many people have already moved away from landlines and exclusively use mobile phones and for them it is largely a no-news event. With caller ID apps like Whitepages Caller ID, mobile users already have the opportunity to identify and block unwanted calls and text. 

But What About Other Nuisance Calls?

So for those of you landline users who are happy to have robocalls blocked, don’t expect to now be rid of all unwanted calls. Robocalls are just one of many types of unwanted calls. Many nuisance calls are not from automated dialers at all, the IRS scam and Microsoft Tech Support scam are great examples. By enabling users to only block robocalls, the decision doesn’t go far enough to protect consumers from unwanted calls or from high risk calls that are not automated.

This Means Robocalls Will Stop, Right? Not Exactly.

Part of the FCC ruling opens up the opportunity for banks and health care providers to alert consumers to possible fraud. This is a move in the right direction for consumer protection since banking fraud and health care fraud are two of the most largely seen areas of phone and SMS scams. But expanding robocalling opportunities to these two industries introduces the opportunity for more fraudulent activities. Where previously, consumers knew that all unsolicited contact from their bank or health care provider was suspicious, now it will be harder to tell real alerts from scams. With an app like Whitepages Caller ID, you can scrutinize contacts from banks or your health care provider very closely.

Is the image below really a text from your bank or is it fraud?

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The opportunity to block unwanted calls is a great bonus for those of you trying to avoid nuisance calls and protect yourselves from spam. But you don’t want to miss calls that you actually want to receive. You’ve got to trust that the data is accurate. The Whitepages Phone Reputation Service evaluates over 2.5 billion calls and identifies over 20 million spam calls and texts every month. This volume combined with years of experience building our phone spam detection algorithms brings a high level of accuracy to our data. Download Whitepages Caller ID for Android and protect yourself from unwanted calls now.

Barbecues & Big Data: Your Favorite Businesses Are Personalized for You

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What does an extra mint get a waiter? If he or she brings it to your attention, it’s tends to increase the tip you give them by more than 20 percent. When a company goes out of its way to address our customer needs before we even realize it – even if it’s as simple as handing out an extra mint – it can go a long way in making us more satisfied and potentially loyal customers.

But that’s just the beginning. Companies of all shapes and sizes are using big data to give us (their customers) a more personalized experience. One such example is the restaurant chain Dickeys Barbecue Pit. They’re leveraging big data to make their business run better and provide their customers with better experiences. Making big data beneficial for you is something that we at Whitepages can certainly identify with. Let’s take a look at how data and personalization come together in barbecue of all places.

Personalization Gets Restaurants a First Foot Through the Door

You may not be thinking about it too much, but most restaurants are pulling out all the stops to get you to come in, except if you’re the owner of the swankiest of New York or Los Angeles hot spots. But even then, restaurateurs are catering to us, their clientele, with the utmost of personal care, learning our names, our favorite foods and important details about our lives. Getting personal makes us feel valued and ready to return at a future date.

The National Restaurant Association explained how personalization makes a difference for us customers, especially when it’s partnered with savings. With online marketing in particular, nearly 7 in 10 customers will either visit or order from a restaurant that highlights the fact that they were past patrons. This small gesture sends a signal that the restaurant remembers you and wants to keep you as a customer.

Beyond name recognition, restaurants that capture data about each customer can get a clearer picture of who you are, your lifestyle and preferences. Each time you visit or order online, they gather more data to understand you and provide you with more satisfying experiences.

Dickeys Barbecue Pit Takes It to a New Level

By consolidating data from loyalty programs, inventory and customer feedback, Forbes explained Dickeys Barbecue Pit can look into its 514 different stores to promote specials. (Who doesn’t love more ribs at half the price?) It informs what goes on the menu in certain regions. You wouldn’t think that you’d need data scientists to figure out a menu, but it apparently pays off. Using sales figures, preparation, profitability, quality and brand as key criteria, Dickeys developed fixed menus for restaurants in different regions so their customers could order their favorites at a better price.

This is something we’ve known for a long time—a little bit of sharing goes a long way. The same can be said of big data and better customer experiences. That’s why all of us at Whitepages are busy finding new ways to make our big data more personalized for you. It’s the reason why we developed Whitepages Caller ID, so you can know who’s calling and also update your caller profile to let others know it’s you ringing through. It’s our way of giving your phone call the personalized experience we think it deserves.

 

Team WP: Meet Sr. Product Manager, Suja

Sr-Product-Manager-Suja

Meet Suja, 80’s music fan and Sr. Product Manager on the Whitepages Caller ID team. Suja works on all aspects of the product lifecycle, from new feature ideas to feature prioritization and even in-market support. Suja is clearly passionate about her role and her team. As said by Suja herself, “I love product management because I get to work with some many different teams to make our products successful – engineering, marketing, finance and more.” Let’s meet Suja!

 

 

Which office are you in?
Seattle, WA.

Why did you join Whitepages?
The big vision, the talented people and awesome culture.
Sr-Product-Manager-Suja-Company-Culture
(Above is just one example of our awesome company culture.) 

What’s your hometown?
Seattle, WA

What’s your favorite snack in the kitchen?
Cashews.

How do you take your coffee?
Soy milk and two Splendas.

What do you listen to at work?  What’s on your playlist?
Bad 80s music. So embarrassing.

What was your very first job?
A waitress at a retirement center.

Describe your first computer.
An Apple Macintosh SE when I was in middle school. The killer app was word processing but I also discovered Hypercard and learned to use it to put together “chose your own adventure” stories for fun.
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What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
The Smurfs

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Fill in the blank: If you really knew me, you’d know _______.
I’m a huge nerd. I love technology.

What are you most proud of?
My two small kids – they are amazing.

What do you do when you have 30 minutes of free time?
Browse fashion blogs.

If you had 10 extra dollars what would you buy?
I would probably pay it forward and drop it in a tip jar at a coffee shop.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Nursery Rhymes- singing along with my kids.

What’s the last vacation you went on?
Maui
Maui

What’s your signature gelato flavor?
Pistachio

Two things you can’t live without?
My smartphone and online shopping. I rarely go to physical stores anymore.

Meet Engineering Manager, Brent

Brent-Newman-Engineer-Manager

Meet New York native and Whitepages engineering manager, Brent. As an engineering manager, Brent leads a team of 5 who work closely together to tackle the front end of our Caller ID Android app. If you have the opportunity to walk around our office, you would likely find Brent working intensely at his desk, but if you listen closely, you just might hear him listening to Beck or Arctic Monkeys. Let’s meet Brent!

Which office are you in?
Seattle

Why did you join Whitepages?
I wanted a chance to create mobile apps that would reach millions of people.

What’s your hometown?
Fredonia, NY

What’s your favorite snack in the kitchen?
The new Sriracha covered cashews are pretty awesome.

How do you take your coffee?
Cream and sugar, but two of those hazelnut creamer packets in the kitchen will do.

What do you listen to at work? What’s on your playlist?
Recent favorites: Beck, Arctic Monkeys, Green Day, Milky Chance, Twenty One Pilots, Zedd, The Strokes.
Brent-Engineer-Manager
(The Arctic Monkeys!)

What was your very first job?
My parents used to own a small corner grocery store (attached to our house). I worked there as a cashier and I would also stock the shelves.

Describe your first computer.
It was a TI-99/4A. I saved up $60 from my allowance and my grandparents paid the other $60. I taught myself BASIC programming on it, and would save my programs to cassette tape.
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What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
I used to really love a show called the Dukes of Hazzard. So embarrassing.
Dukes-Engineer-Manager

Fill in the blank: If you really knew me, you’d know _______.
My wife and I were in the same Kindergarten class.

What are you most proud of?
My family (my two daughters!).

What do you do when you have 30 minutes of free time?
Play Words with Friends, scan my twitter feed.

If you had 10 extra dollars what would you buy?
Probably a couple of cool new iPhone/iPad apps.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?
No song exists that can handle my singing voice. It’ll also be a cold day in hell that you’ll find me on a karaoke stage.

What’s the last vacation you went on?
Went with my family to England for Christmas. Spent time in London and the English Countryside.
Engineer-Manager-London

What’s your signature gelato flavor?
Cappuccino and Chocolate.

Two things you can’t live without?
Chocolate and my iPhone.