Police Warn of Michigan Loan Scam
By Lindsay Frankel
Scammers are impersonating the fraud department of cell phone carriers, gaining victims’ trust in order to obtain identifying information about them. The scammer will claim to have identified an “abnormal” transaction that justifies the need to verify a user’s account information, police say. While the scammer only asks for a telephone number and the last four digits of the user’s social security number, those two pieces of information can do a lot of damage.
That’s because scammers can use that information to take out a loan online. If a fraudster takes out a loan in your name, you’re left liable to repay the loan, even though you never had access to the money.
“Remember, if someone calls you asking to verify personal information it likely is a scam,” the Grandville police department reported. “Hang up and call the company yourself.”
Fraudsters can even use a technique known as Caller ID spoofing, which involves falsifying Caller ID information to make it appear as if the scammer is calling from a local number or even one that you trust, such as your cell phone carrier. The Federal Communications Commission has been pushing the phone industry to establish a Caller ID Authentication system, but in the meantime, consumers need to watch for the warning signs.
Given the capability of scammers to spoof legitimate phone numbers, it’s best not to answer a phone call from your phone carrier. Instead, look up the carrier’s number on their website and call back. If you do happen to answer, don’t respond to any requests for information, even if it seems innocuous. Hang up and call your phone company directly to verify the request.
In recent months, scammers have been found to impersonate phone carriers with other intentions. In Florida, two men were arrested for allegedly pretending to be customer service representatives at the phone company in order to gain access to customers’ accounts.
In this scam, the fraudster will send you a verification code while trying to gain access to your account, and ask you to provide the code. If this happens, you should hang up immediately. Once the scammer has access, they can open new phone lines or buy pricey smartphones that you will be billed for.
New scams that utilize caller ID spoofing pop up constantly, so you may not always be aware of a scammer’s specific intent when they contact you. Your best act of defense is to simply not answer and call the number directly. Should you be tricked into answering, never provide personal information during the call.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a phone scam, file a complaint with the FCC.