Sunday, September 7, 2008

New "Beware of Con Men" Warnings Dominate Vishing Schemes

--Con Men Upgrade: New Sophistication Enables Even Greater Threat to Consumers' Wallets

It's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

What's that?

The many schemes the con men can dream up to lure you into their various traps. When their conventional scams become tired, they sprinkle their Holy Water on a completely new one. And, presto. Look out. Run for cover.

Any connection between your reality and that of the con men is purely coincidental. If you were to believe some of the new email scams surfacing now, it would be like putting credence in a claim by your accountant that there is no such thing as a number three. Yet, many of these new email scams feature such a sophisticated approach that they are fooling a sea of new suckers at an alarming rate. Does artificial intelligence beat real stupidity? Never overlook the collective mental vacuity of naive people in large groups.

Go figure. New approach--believe it or not--is assurance. Assurance that the con men, themselves, are protecting--yes, protecting--you against con men and fraud. (That's like getting a pet Zebra and naming him Spot.) Here's how they do it:

This new assault on your identity--called "vishing"--involves an alleged bank representative, cleverly disguised as a responsible business executive, contacting you by email, and persuading you to divulge your PII (Personally Identifiable Information), claiming your account has been suspended, deactivated, or terminated.

You are directed to contact your bank via a telephone number provided in the email, or by an automated recording.

But, it this case it's best to react according to Bucy's Law: Nothing is ever accomplished by a reasonable man.

Were you to call the number given, you would be greeted with, "Welcome to the Bank of _________" and requested to enter your card number in order to resolve a pending security issue. Sadly, there are still too many people around who prove that evolution can go in reverse, too many people who still get suckered by these crafty con men. (An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain; how many people do you know like this?)

The con men even warn against providing sensitive information by email, and not to click on attachments, because these might be (horrors) contaminated with "malicious software aimed at capturing your login credentials."

How to react?

A fake fortuneteller can be tolerated; but an authentic soothsayer should be shot on sight. Don't click Don't react directly to anything suggested. Incompetence knows no barriers of time or place. Instead, contact the financial institution supposedly involved-- do this by independent means. Banks never notify their customers of irregularities in this manner..

Appropriate in these unusual email cases is Goodfader's Law: Under any system, a few sharpies will beat the rest of us. Does this mean you don't have a chance? No. You do. How? What should your reaction be?

Rejection? Should be automatic, as this email assault insults your common sense. It all comes down to a matter of which grouping of people do you fall into? The suckered, or the enlightened?

It's like the converse purposes of smoking a pipe: It gives a wise man time to think, and a fool something to stick in his mouth.


Ariel J said...

Leading the sucker into clicking on a phone number seems to be the main catch on this one, doesn't it?

Julie said...

There is always a new twist, new sophistication as ou put it. What's safe? It is so hard to know.

Terry said...

I guess it's your sense of humor that keeps bringing me back, Jack.
It's hard to understand, such serious, important subjects, yet so much humor injected. Don't know why but I sure enjoy it. Who else would come up with a line like getting a pet zebra and naming it Spot? Another winner.

Jack Payne said...

Yes, Ariel, so many of the email con games nowadays are geared to trapping the recipient into clicking on a phone number.

What's safe? Julie, come now. I hope I made it clear that the only safe reaction is no reaction. Never click on anything in these emails. If you're curious, just run their name through Google or any other search engine. To go further, type in "Consumer Watchdog Groups," and take it from there. You'll get all the information you'll ever need.

Jack Payne said...

Terry, I think it's a sense of humor that is the character trait that I admire, in anyone, beyond all else. Why? Because it's a mirror of the soul--it faithfully reflects the real, inner person. Who could not but love Bob Hope's incredibly fluffy look at life, Red Skelton's childish grasp, George Burns' humility, George Carlin's steadfast grit and detirmination, Johnny Carson's self-deprecation? My fondest hope is that when I finally cash my chips I die with a smile on my face.

Gene Kranik said...

You hit another one out of the park, Jack. Now all I have to do is to figure a way to index all this stuff, so I can refer back to it under certain circumstances. You have a lousy indexing system you know.

Warmer said...

Warning against malicious software? That takes the cake. You are right. They are becoming very sophisticated.

Earl T. Clydson said...

I must be a super-cautious guy. All of these scams come up as easy to see through as clear crystal. Makes you think, why do so many people throw caution, and common sense, to the winds?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I guess you can call me hard hearted. I say anybody dumb enough to fall for something like this deserves to be taken.

Jack Payne said...

Gene, there is no indexing. Best you can do is ask a specific question, and I can usually refer you to a date in the Archives which will produce an article that will cover it.

Why do so many people throw all caution to the winds? That's always the big question, Earl, the one I keep warning about.

Dee said...

Among Bucy, Goodfather and the damn ostrich I barely know where to start. Guess the brute force direct attack is always best. Always get in touch with the authorities first hand. Great stuff as usual Jack. Blast these suckers out of their hiding places.