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Washington, D.C. (Jun 27) – Phishing web sites are nothing new online nor the phishing emails millions receive each day. Phishing is the illegal acquisition via nefarious methods to obtain personal information about an individual. Bogus e-mails, giving out too much personal information on the telephone, and trolling social networking web sites are just some of the ways criminals gain access to information one assumes remains private.
The FBI announced the latest threat on June 21, 2010. This new method of identity thief involves tying up personal and business telephone lines. By bombarding telephones, also known as “telephone denial-of-service attacks”, you could be on the verge of a crime targeting your bank accounts.
“In a recent twist, criminals have transferred this activity to telephones, using automated dialing programs and multiple accounts to overwhelm the phone lines of unsuspecting citizens,” states the FBI warning.
This is a diversionary tactic that gives the criminals the ability to masquerade as the victim, and raid the victim’s online trading accounts, money management accounts, and bank accounts.
The warning signs of this scam start weeks or even months before the actual phone scam itself. Thieves use “social engineering tactics or malware to elicit personal information from a victim that this person’s bank or financial institution would have” including account numbers and passwords. Social networking web sites are often ripe picking grounds for these criminals as people tend to fill out profiles revealing too much information about themselves.
The next step is the actual tying up of the victim’s telephone lines using sophisticated technology. Once this happens, “the criminal either contacts the financial institution pretending to be the victim – or pilfers the victim’s online bank accounts using fraudulent transactions. Normally, the institution calls to verify the transactions, but of course they can’t get through to the victim over the phone.”
Should the criminal’s attempt fail, and no transactions take place, “the criminals sometimes re-contact the financial institution as the victim and ask for it to be done. Or they add their own phone number to victims’ accounts and just wait for the bank to call. By the time the victim or the financial institution realizes what happens, it’s too late.”
April of this year saw a noticeable increase in telephone denial-of-service attacks, primarily targeting the Eastern states. However, no one is immune.
Teaming up with the Communication Fraud Control Association, the FBI analyzes patterns and trends of these attacks to identify these criminals and “bring them to justice.” They are also reaching out to educate the public.
Obvious precautions need to take place including “never give out personal information to an unsolicited phone caller or via e-mail; change online banking and automated telephone system passwords frequently; check your account balances often; and protect your computers with the latest virus protection and security software.”
If you believe you are being targeted by the telephone denial of service attack, contact your bank, all financial institutions, and your telephone provider.
The FBI encourages you to file a complaint at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center – www.fbi.gov/homepage.htm