The Federal Trade Commission has recently received numerous reports of scammers posing as cable and internet companies. These fraudsters are so good at cheating that even the most savvy consumer can be cheated.
Despite apps, software, and caller ID blocking calls, scammers are cheating hard-working people like you and me of our hard-earned money over the phone.
A woman recently emailed me saying this is exactly what happened to her and her husband:
“We just received a scam call yesterday addressing my husband by name and claiming to be Cox Cable. We had just canceled Cox Cable TV two or three days earlier which this caller was aware of. They were offering a 40% discount if we reconnected” I inquired about the charges but before he would give me the charges he wanted to verify our account and asked for my mother’s maiden name. Then the red flag went up. I said, ‘Can I call you back in 15 minutes? ‘, intending to check the phone number and call Cox Cable. The caller replied that he would call me back. Once I Googled the number and called Cox Cable, I realized it was, in fact, a scam. The caller did not call back. I called my elderly parents to warn them about this kind of scam.”
“The question in my mind is, how did they know we just canceled cable service with Cox Cable after having it for the past 11 years? Is there a breach in the Cox Cable data system?”
How to tell if you are being scammed
Scammers posing as trusted sources like your cable or internet provider making it all the easier for their victims to fall prey to them and willingly divulge their personal information. And unfortunately, more and more scammers tend to prey on people 65 and older because:
- They have good credit
- They tend to be financially secure
- They are reliable
Fortunately, there are simple red flags to look out for to determine if the person you’re calling is really who they claim to be:
- If they ask for personal information over the phone – service providers will never ask you for this.
- It’s from an unknown phone number- if the number is not one of your contacts or unknown to you, it is more than likely a scammer.
Unfortunately, some scammers are sophisticated enough to make their caller IDs appear as if they are, in fact, the company they claim to be. If they are legit, they will leave a message for you to call them back with the number so you can do so a Google search and make sure the number is safe. They are most likely scammers if they don’t leave a message.
How did the scammers get the personal information of the woman and her husband?
Alarmingly, the scammer seemed to know the woman’s mother’s maiden name and they had just canceled their cable subscription.
A mother’s maiden name is one of the most popular security questions people choose to verify their identity should they lose access to their account. Understandable because this is an easy question to remember; however, it is also easy to track down, as a simple web search could discover it. Data brokers or “people search” sites collect your information, including your date of birth, phone number, and address, from various sites, then sell it for a small fee to people who search for you online.
Fortunately, there are ways to handle about what personal information about you can be found on the internet. The surefire way is to invest in a trusted moving service, as described in our article here.
As for how they knew the woman and her husband had canceled their subscription, that’s odd. It’s not unfathomable to think that there could be prying eyes in your email that might reveal that you’ve canceled your cable. You may consider closing your email with a secure email account if these calls keep coming. Check out my #1 pick for secure email at CyberGuy.com/Mail.
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