Awareness Note: Practice Phone Scam Safety

  • Published
  • By Air Force Office of Special Investigations Det 803
  • Peterson-Schriever Garrison

During 2019, Americans lost over $10 billion due to phone scams.  Males, ages 18-34, are the most likely to lose the most money. One in ten Americans will be a victim. This means the scams are effective and you could be a victim.

More than 60 percent of these scams are based overseas. These are criminal organizations, but their efforts could have counterintelligence implications such as, access to government information. The complication of legal processing makes it difficult for anyone to take any action or recoup loss.

A significant loss of DoD information occurred when a foreign entity targeted the social media of a military spouse.  The foreign power was able to install malware and extract significant data because of the interconnected nature of personal and government emails and the forwarding of information between these accounts.

Common scams include:

  1. The Social Security Administration is suspending your social security number and you may have a warrant for your arrest.
    1. This never, ever happens. The SSA will never call you to verify any of your information, even if they did have your phone number.
  2. Your Apple account has been hacked.
    1. This may come in through email or mobile calls. Apple will never ask you to click a link and verify any information. Also, they will never call you and ask you to do anything, such as install remote viewing software or verify your data. If you have an Apple account issue, you will schedule a call with Apple or will log into your account for assistance.
  3. You’re a winner!
    1. If you put your name in a drawing box for a “free trip” you may get a call. These are often vacation scams. Remember, nothing is free and if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
  4. Your car warranty is expiring soon.
    1. Maybe your car warranty is expiring soon, but the person on the phone is simply going to steal your money. The warranties are worthless.

Many of these criminal organizations are sophisticated and have a variety of information they have stolen or hacked from other locations. They may seem real and thus they are deceiving, well educated people. Do not be a victim. Hang up.  If you have any doubts, take your time to verify with whom you are speaking. Never give out any verification information. As a law enforcement officer I can promise you that if I have a warrant for your arrest, I will not be calling you on the phone first to try and “work it out.”

If you are a victim of a scam, change all your passwords. So many of our accounts are connected in some way, including sharing the same passwords, usernames and restore data. Not changing one of your accounts could lead to compromise of all accounts. Call your financial institution to see if you need to add security measures.