Summer Is Peak Season For Cybercrimes
Cybersecurity Awareness – By Ron Frechette, The Cyber Guy
The lazy days of summer are here! The kids are out of school and everyone is getting excited for the big family vacation. Most of us are traveling to new places and using our credit cards more than usual. This is the time of year when the cyber crooks are looking to take advantage of the fact that we are in a relaxed state and more vulnerable than usual. There have been several reports of credit card scams recently. Fact is, cyber criminals are getting very good at developing all types of phishing, ransomware, and war dialing telephone fraud scams. So, this month I want to urge everyone to be extra vigilant and not be lazy when it comes to divulging your personal information.
Case in point… last week I received a call from my credit card company, Capital One. I had just left a meeting and the rep happened to catch me in the car while driving back to the office. He was calling to inform me that because I had paid more than the monthly minimum and had not been late on payments, I qualified for a low or no-interest rate reduction for 18 months. He also mentioned Capital One had been losing clients to competitors offering lower interest rates and this was an effort to retain current customers.
Being in my profession, I was obviously suspicious. I could hear several other people on the phones in the background which led me to believe he was in a call center environment. I asked him where he was calling me from and he said a Capital One call center in Houston, TX. He spoke good English and came across as extremely genuine and knowledgeable. Then I flat out confronted him about this being a scam. He told me how long I had been a customer of Capital One, what my current balances were, how much I had paid last month and then calmly asked, “If I were not with Capital One Mr. Frechette, how would I have this information”?
I must admit, he was beginning to convince me this may be a legitimate call. I then asked him what exactly he would need to process the request to decrease my interest rate. He said he would need to put me on a brief hold and get his manager on the line for final approval. Once again, sounded like a standard process we all go through when conducting business over the phone.
I was now back in my office and immediately dialed the Capital One Fraud line to confirm if this was legitimate. As I was on hold waiting for the fraud department to pick up, the manager comes on the line and says, “Mr. Frechette, thanks for holding and congratulations. You have been approved for 18 months of 0% interest due to your payment history and for staying with Capital One as a customer”. All I need is for you to confirm your date of birth and social security number.
At this point, I told “The Manager” I was in the cybersecurity industry and I had the Capital One Fraud department on the other line. If this was truly Capital One, please provide me a general phone number and his extension that I could call him back on to confirm he was with Capital One. And that was when ironically the phone line went dead. I reported the incident to Capital One once they came on the line and they mentioned several of their customers have fallen for the same exact scam.
Unfortunately, as we move forward in the digital age, these types of scams will increase in volume and become more sophisticated. Even an old cybersecurity veteran like myself came close to becoming a victim. If you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to the proper authorities.
Wishing everyone a fun, safe and scam-free summer!