LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — About 24 million Americans fall victim to phone scams each year, and an elaborate new con has people believing their bank is preventing a problem when in reality it’s a criminal looking to steal money.
The scam starts with a text, presumably from the victim’s bank, that asks about potential fraudulent activity. That text is then followed up by a phone call by a person who claims to be an employee of the bank.
When this happened to Candace Terrell, she had no reason to doubt its validity. The phone number on her Caller ID matched the number of her bank. The person on the phone had her address and the last four digits of her bank card.
“He said I have to put you over to an automated line where you will be asked to put in your pin number,” Terrell said.
As soon as she did that, the scammer had full access to her account and took out $2,300.
Cyber Security Expert Scott Schober said spoofing a number to match a known number is a fairly easy task — there are apps that will do it with minimal effort, making people answer the phone without question. This is why Schober said people should question everything and know how their bank handles fraud alerts.
“Because if you’re not familiar with that, you’re going to follow through blindly on the scheme,” he said.
Terrell’s bank reimbursed her for the stolen money, but now she wants to warn others so they don’t fall for the same scam.
Schober said it’s very difficult for police to catch these criminals, because the crimes are almost always untraceable.