Fraud & Identity Fraud & Identity

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T-Mobile Scam ID Helps Fight Identity Fraud

April 10, 2017

Whether you use a landline or cellphone, chances are good that you’ve received a few scam calls over the years. You know the ones—there’s an awkward pause after you say “Hello,” and then someone (an actual person or a recorded message) starts asking for information you’re not willing to give over the phone.

Fraudsters use a variety of methods to gain access to people’s information over the phone—they’re known for posing as IRS agents, banks, colleges, doctors, etc. Essentially, scammers will use any position of power to threaten people over the phone, scare the victims into giving up their personal information, and then use that stolen knowledge to hack a variety of accounts and mobile devices. But what if there was a way to avoid answering these calls altogether?

T-Mobile has just come out with a new feature that will flag “known scam” calls for its wireless users, according to Grant Castle, VP of engineering services at T-Mobile. If an incoming call seems suspicious, Scam ID will provide a pop up indicator that a call is a likely scam. Castle stated that Scam ID uses PrivacyStar’s database of scam callers when it comes to flagging calls. Scam ID is free and will become available over the next few weeks, but people can choose to opt in early by dialing #664# and then hitting the call button.

Due to the FCC, T-Mobile cannot automatically block those calls, which is why the service simply provides a pop up notification. However, subscribers can opt into “Scam Block,” which also uses PrivacyStar’s database to block numbers that are listed there. To turn on this feature, T-Mobile users can punch in #662# before hitting “Call.”

Scam calls are becoming a growing problem, as it’s an easy method for fraudsters to use to get their hands on personal information. “Three out of four wireless callers get these at least once a year. Often, if a customer gets this, they get into databases or something and then they get a ton of these. Once you do, it's not fun,” Castle said.

Castle couldn’t be more right about the complete lack of fun associated with these calls. Although you’d think people would know not to give out personal information over the phone, that can be hard to remember when someone claiming to be from the IRS is yelling at you and threatening to send police to your house. That’s why it’s so easy for fraudsters to gain this information, especially from the elderly.

Once fraudsters have this information, they can put it to endless use. Knowing a victim’s social security number or bank account information, for example, gives fraudsters access to the victim’s finances, enabling them to completely clean a person out. Or, on the mobile phone front, if the fraudster called pretending to be an operator, they can then head to the nearest cellphone store, provide the needed information to switch carriers, and then port the victim’s number. That whole process doesn’t take a lot of time and, before the victim even knows what’s going on, the fraudster will have switched their phone carrier, stolen their number, and taken over their mobile phone (along with all the personal information on it).

That’s why T-Mobile’s new service may come in handy when it comes to stopping mobile identity fraud. Fraudsters tend to go for the easiest route possible when stealing information, which is why scam calls are so popular. However, if potential victims start using Scam ID, they’ll stop answering those fraudulent calls. This will ultimately keep fraudsters from gaining access to that information, and no identity fraud will occur as a result.


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