20/01/2014

20/01/2014

Identity Theft Scams and Preventions

Fraudsters are continually coming up with new way to steal people's personally identifiable information (PII) to allow them access bank accounts.

We have all received the "bogus" e-mails and suspicious unsolicited phone calls. In the majority of these cases, the fraudster is trying to access PII such as your bank details, PPS number etc.  Unfortunately, they generally target the elderly as they are seen as easier to dupe.

If you receive unsolicited phone calls, tell the caller you would like to call them back and ask for their direct number.  This will generally make them hang up.  The golden rule is never give out any personally sensitive information over the Internet, or on unsolicited phone calls.

In the US, the FBI have reported a number of scams that are being widely used.

Travellers' laptop scam:-

Fraudsters target you when you are setting up an Internet connection in your hotel room.  A pop-up appears on your screen to update a well-known software product, however it contains a malicious piece of software that seeks out your PII.

Mobile phone scam:-

This scam targets Android operating devices for mobile phones with malware programs ("Loozfon" and "FinFisher").  The fraudster uses ads for 'work-at-home" opportunities which promise big profits for sending out e-mails to deliver their products.   When the victim clicks on the link,,, they are directed to a website that will embed the Loozfon malware on their device.  It then steals personal contact details from their address book and the telephone numbers.

The Finfisher malware transfers to a smartphone when a victim visits a specific website or opens a bogus text message.  After its installed, the fraudster can remotely control and monitor the device anywhere the user takes it.

It is recommended to also password protect your phone and engage the screen lock after a few minutes of inactivity.  Be aware of apps that enable geo-location to pinpoint your location.  Don't allow your device to connect to unknown wireless networks, which may be rogue access points that capture information passed between your phone and legitimate servers.  If you change your phone, do a factory reset on your old phone to completely remove all PII.

Fake hotel website:-

Fraudsters set up online pages that advertise real or fictitious hotels (especially in China and Southeast Asia) to rob room deposits or credit card details.

It is recommended to book hotels through reputable travel sites.

I will keep the room scam:-

The fraudster roams hotel corridors looking for vacant, unlocked and uncleaned hotel rooms.  He then masquerades as the previous occupant and calls the hotel reception to stay for a few extra days.  The intention is that the extra stay is charged to the credit card of the previous occupant.

Scambusters reported a man in Florida was arrested for living free of charge for two years using this scam.

When you leave a hotel, lock your door and return your keys to the reception to ensure they know you have really checked out.

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