Apparently, identity thieves have been ringing people up and saying they need personal information in order to “fix” their computers. But there’s no way the FTC or its affiliate site OnGuardOnline.gov will ever call your home phone seeking information, the agencies say.
“You might have gotten this phone number from an email, text, or voicemail message. But no matter how real it seemed, that message was a trick,” the FTC told consumers.
The FTC doesn’t lay out how many have been affected by the phishing scam – when con artists weasel information from consumers with Internet ads or messages asking them to call a phone number – but phone companies are working to identify the fake callers.
Once they’ve homed in on a phone number connected to a scheme, they disconnect the line and tack on an automated message to alert consumers.
Here’s how the message might sound:
“This is a message from the Federal Trade Commission. The telephone number you’ve just called has been disconnected because it may be involved in a scam. You might have gotten this phone number from an email, text, or voicemail message. But no matter how real it seemed, that message was a trick. It’s called ‘phishing,’ because scammers go fishing for information about you or your financial accounts. Once scammers have that, they can use it to commit identity theft or fraud. If you’re concerned about your account, contact your financial institution using information from your billing statement. And find out how to protect yourself against phishing and identity theft at OnGuardOnline.gov, a website managed by the Federal Trade Commission. That’s OnGuardOnline dot g-o-v. This message will be repeated once.”
Been contacted by a dodgy number? Alert the FTC by filing a complaint here.