Identity Theft Articles

FBI Warns Consumers Over Revived Telephone Scams

Criminals still use the telephone to obtain personal information from consumers

While most criminals are utilizing technology to steal consumer information, such as bank account numbers and passwords, others are sticking to old-fashioned ways of committing theft. Calling consumers to solicit information has always been a popular tool among criminals and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has recently warned Americans that an old telephone scam has been revived, according to identity theft awareness website IDTheftQuiz.org.

The scam, previously popular in 2005, involves contacting consumers about jury duty. Scammers will contact individuals on the phone posing as U.S. court employees to let them know that they have been selected for jury duty. They will then ask to verify personal information such as name, Social Security number and credit account information. Individuals that refuse to release this information are then intimidated with the threat of heavy fines.

The FBI advises Americans who receive such calls to refuse giving out any information. The U.S. court system does not notify prospective jurors that they have been selected for duty via phone and request sensitive information.

In addition to the jury duty scam, a rise in telemarketer scams has also caused consumer advocates to warn Americans about releasing personal information over the phone. Callers may claim to be representatives of a bank or other financial institution and ask for sensitive information so that the individual can receive a special prize or reward. Most will say that in order to claim the offer, the consumer must act immediately and may be required to pay for postage and shipment.

IDTheftQuiz.org warns Americans that it is very difficult to get money back when a purchase is made over the telephone and identity theft committed in this way may be even more difficult to prove. Individuals are discouraged from purchasing anything via phone unless they know that company is legitimate. While unfamiliar companies may be legitimate businesses, consumers should do their research before making a purchase.

Consumers that fall victim to scams over the phone should contact their local police immediately and obtain a copy of their credit report to monitor for suspicious activity. Those who released sensitive information should consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on their credit report to make it more difficult for criminals to open accounts under their name.