Scammers Still Call & Mail Victims

With the increasing numbers of connected devices, social media platforms and other digital services, we’ve become accustomed to the threats that target us online. But two not-so-new phone and mail scams prove that fraudsters are still using traditional scamming methods to facilitate their crimes.

Unfortunate but true, our Resolution Center gets calls about phone and mail scams all the time. This new wave of malicious phone and mail scams reminds us just how effective traditional social engineering and scare tactics can be.

Scam #1: Pay Up, or I’ll Tell On You

The first scam, targeting victims via threatening letters in the mail, works by scaring victims into paying to keep a secret safe. Victims receive a letter that states the sender “knows a secret you are keeping from your wife.”

The letter also includes detailed instructions on how to convert funds into bitcoin. Victims report that payment demands have been between $3,400 and $8,900. Scammers demand payment in bitcoin because it is virtually untraceable, making it easier to remain undetected.

Law enforcement says that this scam specifically targets men in middle- to high-income households. Victims were likely chosen from a list of stolen information obtained from the Dark Web, U.S. Postal Inspector Kyle Parker said.

Scam #2: Your iCloud Account Was Breached

The second scam targets Apple users by impersonating Apple Customer Support representatives. Scammers use call spoofing so that the incoming call appears to be from Apple Support.

Different variations of this scam have been reported across the United States. Some calls are meant to capture Apple IDs and passwords, while others target more sensitive information like birth dates and Social Security numbers. A third variation convinces victims to buy anti-virus software and download it to their device.

This scam call typically begins with an automated menu, stating that the victim’s iCloud account was hacked. The automated message instructs users to press 1 if they’d like to speak with a representative about the matter, or to press 2 to stop receiving automated calls.

Don’t Press “2” – Just Hang Up

Pressing 2 seems like the logical way for victims to stop scam calls. However, scammers are often hoping you press 2 to verify you are a real person on the other line. Scammers can use this information to create a list of viable scam targets for future use.

Apple will never call you unless you reach out to them first, and they will never call you multiple times. The best thing to do if you receive one of these calls is to hang up immediately and reach out to Apple directly.

What should I do?

Use the tips below to avoid being swindled by these not-so-new phone and mail scam tactics:

Mail Scams

  • Be wary of demands. Like email scams, mail scams will use intimidation to scare you into paying or providing your sensitive information. Never make payments via mail without first verifying the sender, and don’t be afraid to ask why your sensitive information is needed.
  • Report scams and fraud. If you’ve received scam or fraudulent mail, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and report the incident online. You can also call them at 1-800-275-8777 to report your scam over the phone.

Phone Scams

  • Don’t interact, just hang up. It may be tempting to try scamming the scammer. However, more sophisticated phone scams are now recording victim responses like “Yes” and “OK” to get around voice authentication security measures. If you think you’ve been contacted by a scammer, hang up the phone immediately.
  • Always ask why. Service-related or other legitimate tech support calls will never ask you for personal or payment information over the phone.
  • Check for spoofing. If someone is claiming to be from a certain company or organization, hang up the phone and call them back with the number you have on file. This will help verify that you are speaking with a legitimate person tied to the company in question.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can report phone scams and other fraudulent activity via the FTC’s “Complaint Assistant.” You can also file a complaint to the FBI by filling out this online form.