Some clever criminals have devised the perfect way to get you to divulge your personal information. They call you up and ask for it over the phone!
Many people are aware of phishing scams and would never give out their personal information through email or on a website. However, crooks have long known another way to con people into giving them sensitive personal information such as their Social Security or credit card numbers. They call you up on the phone and ask you for them. I know it sounds silly but it works all the time because these phone fraudsters create real-sounding, yet fictitious contexts designed to fool people.
Jury Duty Phone Scam
One of the more recent and highly effective versions of this scam involves phoning people to tell them that they were expected in court for jury duty. The person calling will pretend they’re an employee of a local court and tell you that because you failed to appear for jury duty, a warrant has been issued for your arrest. At some point during the call you’ll be asked for personal information so you can verify your identity. The con man expects that you’ll be rattled and counts on this for the scam to work.
The Bank Needs Your Help
Another common and highly successful version of this scam involves someone pretending to represent your bank or credit union. They’ll offer some half-baked story like the bank’s servers have crashed and they need your banking data so that it can be re-keyed into the system. They’ll start by asking for your Social Security number and if they can finagle that out of you they’ll go after more. Next they’ll ask for your credit card numbers. If you’re that helpful they’ll go for the mother load: your PIN number.
Remember that banks, courts and any other legitimate business or organization will never ask for this kind of information over the phone. There have been instances where I’ve given my Social Security number out but it was on a call I initiated and expected the other party to ask for it. Instances like that are rare but never, ever give any personal information out over the phone if the call is unsolicited, no matter how legitimate the caller seems.