New cyberschemes are targeting individuals, universities and businesses

By Robert E. Holtfreter, Ph.D., CFE, CICA

Taking Back the ID: Identity theft prevention analysis

When Duke Franklin received a bill from his telecommunication carrier, he was shocked to see that he owed triple the amount he normally paid. He immediately called the company to report the discrepancy, but the customer service representative told him his account balance was correct.

During the call, the company rep reviewed with Duke a long list of his supposed calls. Duke only confirmed two. Obviously, someone had stolen Duke's account information and used his identity to make fraudulent telephone calls.


Duke was a victim of a phishing scam that the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported on May 8, 2013. (See Phishing Attacks on Telecommunication Customers Resulting in Account Takeovers.) Like most phishing scams, this one is still going strong.

According to the IC3, a potential victim receives an automated telephone call that claims to be from that person's telecommunication carrier. The victim is directed to a phishing site at which the victim is told that he or she will be able to receive a "credit, discount or prize ranging from $300 to $500."

At the fraudulent site, which is a replicate of the telecommunication company's real site, the victim is asked to provide his or her login credentials and the last four digits of his or her Social Security number. After the victim enters personally identifiable information (PII), he or she is redirected to the company's actual website where the cybercriminal makes changes to the customer's account and uses it to make fraudulent telephone calls, which, of course, are charged to the victim's account.

As with any phishing scheme, individuals should be aware of any emails, text messages or unsolicited telephone calls that promise some sort of financial reward for providing PII. Always verify the validity of messages by contacting the company referred to in the message before providing any type of PII. The IC3 recommends that victims contact their telecommunication companies.

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