FBI/IC3 alert says phishing attacks on phone customers are rising again

Phone scams continue to plague customers

Phishing attacks coming from fraudsters acting like your phone company are again on the upswing according to a new warning from the FBI and its partner agency the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

According to the IC3: "Individuals receive automated telephone calls that claim to be from the victim's telecommunication carrier.  The IC3 released an advisory about this scam in May 2013. Since then, the attacks have increased and recently, victims have reported receiving SMS texts with a similar phishing message encouraging them to go to web sites to claim their reward."

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According to the IC3 victims are directed to a phishing site to receive a credit, discount or prize ranging from $100 to $2,500. The monetary amounts being offered are increasing to make the scam more enticing. A fraudulent web site example would be www.My(insert phone company name)900.com. Other fraudulent web sites may contain words such as, MyBonus, ILove, ILike, Reward, Promo, or similar words, along with a telephone company's name.

The phishing site is a replica of one of the telecommunication carrier's sites and requests the victim's log-in credentials and the last four digits of their Social Security number. Once access is gained, the subject makes changes to the customer's account and may place orders for mobile phones.

The IC3 warns everyone to be cautious of unsolicited telephone calls, e-mails and text messages, especially those promising some type of compensation for supplying account information.

The IC3 warning comes on the heels of the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration cautioning taxpayers to beware of phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an effort to defraud them.

"This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen," said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. George noted that his agency has received reports of over 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid over $1 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials.

The scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every State in the country. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver's license.

The truth is the IRS usually first contacts people by mail - not by phone - about unpaid taxes. And the IRS won't ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS also won't ask for a credit card number over the phone, the agency stated.

The IRS also warned consumers of this and other ongoing scams that tend to peak during tax season when many taxpayers could be on edge.  These phone scams include many variations, ranging from instances from where callers say the victims owe money or are entitled to a huge refund. Some calls can threaten arrest and threaten a driver's license revocation, the IRS stated.

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