Any time you are communicating over the phone and are asked to give your personal information, it is best to at least question the authenticity of the requester.
This is especially true when the phone call was initiated by someone else.
The opportunity for fraud is abundant when talking about information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers or any other personally identifying data that can be used to steal your identity.
For example, if someone is calling you and claiming to represent a credit bureau, they may in fact have your name, address and even the name of the institution where you bank or that holds your mortgage.
They will also likely be very polished in how they present themselves and what they tell you is the issue.
You may hear something like:
“Hello, Mrs. Jones. I do not want to alarm you. However, we have reason to believe some credit fraud may have occurred on your account. Can you please verify your social security number for me?”
An attempt is being made to put some fear into you in an effort to catch you off guard and cause you to reveal personal information.
“The Federal Trade Commission has a
website where you can report such activity.”
Do not fall for it.
Instead, ask for their personal information, including their name and a phone number that you can call them back on.
This is the best way to verify they are who they say they are and actually work for the credit bureau, although it is unlikely they do.
They may simply hang up or they may escalate:
“I hope you understand this is a very urgent situation and there is no time to waste. Please give me the information so I can help save your credit score.”
If this is the response, you can be assured the person on the other end of the phone is not who they are pretending to be.
The best thing to do now is to hang up the phone and make as many notes as you can about what just happened.
If the caller has claimed to be from a particular credit bureau, write that down. If they gave a name, note that also, along with any other details you can remember.
The next step is to contact the authorities.
In addition, you should contact the credit bureau and report to them what just happened.
Finally, you should keep a close eye on your credit report over the following weeks to make sure your financial identity has not been compromised.
Chances are this was just a phishing expedition – one that is committed thousands of times a day in the hopes of catching someone off guard to gain personal security information.
But now you are aware of how to handle these situations and can avoid unknowingly giving out your personal information to the bad guys.
Be careful out there.
Photo source: pyramidins.com.
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