Cybersecurity Ain’t the Only Game in Town: The Scams Multiply

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently working on a book about textile artisans.

Cybersecurity has been much in the news this month, as Equifax and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have both been hacked, victims of scams.

To recap: Equifax announced that a hack had compromised the data of more than 140 million consumers, while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has admitted to acting as an inadvertent tipper of insider information illicitly obtained from its EDGAR filing system. (See Yves here on Equifax, and my post yesterday here for the SEC.)

So one can be forgiven for thinking of the internet as a major if not the sole locus of today’s scams problem.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday ran a jaunty– albeit a bit hair-raising– interview with Frank Abagnale Jr.– the subject of the biopic 2002 Catch Me if You Can,  ‘Catch Me if You Can’ Scam Artist Has a Warning for Today’s Consumers that says it ain’t so.

Once a top class scam artist– successfully posing as pilot, doctor, and lawyer– before getting caught, doing five years’ time– Abagnale and has subsequently spent the last forty years as a security consultant, advising the FBI and others on ways to avoid and counteract scams, particularly those involving cybercrime, fraud, and identity theft.

I realize that the interview is paywalled, and for those who don’t have a WSJ subscription, it’s probably too late to buy a copy of yesterday’s paper.

So I’m going to share with you a few of Abagnale’s thoughts, and some more of my own.

Technology Only Makes Scams Easier– and They’re Not All Confined to the Internet

Abagnale’s first big point– which may seem a bit obvious but is the basis for some of his other observations so I include it here:

…I always tell people what I did 50 years ago as a teenager is now 4,000 times easier to do today than when I did it. Technology breeds crime—it always has and it always will. There’s always going to be people willing to use technology in a negative, self-serving way. So today it’s much easier, whether it’s forging checks or getting information. People go on Facebook and tell you what car they drive, their mother’s name, their wife’s maiden name, children’s name, where they’re going on vacation, where they’ve been on vacation. There’s nothing you can’t research in a matter of a couple of minutes and find out about someone.

For me, this seems yet another reason not to use Facebook– or at least, be very careful about what one shares there.  (An added benefit of turning our collective backs on Facebook might be that Mark Zuckerberg might go away, away, away, and never return, and in the process, give up his dream of becoming El Presidente.)

But I digress. Once someone has your personal information, that scammer can pull off what Abagnale calls the grandparents scam– and as an ambassador to the Fraud Watch Network of the  American Association of Retired People (AARP), I presume he has first-hand experience with some of its victims:

They go on Facebook and they see who the grandparents are, they see who the grandson is dating. The typical call will come in on your caller ID as, for example, the NYPD. You see the police department is calling, because they can easily manipulate the software that controls caller ID. You pick up the phone, the guy says, “This is so-and-so at the New York City Police Department, and we have arrested your grandson this evening and he was driving while intoxicated. He needs to post bail in the next two hours or he will have to spend the weekend in jail.” You wouldn’t believe how many millions of grandparents fall for that, until you explain the scam to them.

Note that the internet is used to source the information necessary to make this scam work, but the rest of the operation doesn’t involve cyberspace at all.

What Abagnale doesn’t mention– but to which I will draw out the obvious connection– is how the Equifax hack is going to make similar financial scams easier, by putting so much information, such as that people often reveal unwittingly on Facebook– wrapped in a neat bow, in the hands of people who can deploy it to con people into turning over more details. So, if someone calls, claiming to be from Equifax and needing to verify information– beware. This may be some variation on the grandparents scam.

One way to protect yourself somewhat from some of the consequences of the Equifax hack that cannot be mentioned too frequently, as this Wolf Richter crosspost describes, Wolf Richter: Worst US Consumer Data Hack Ever? Equifax Confesses, is to impose a “security freeze” on one’s credit record with each of the three major credit bureaus:

A security freeze (aka “credit freeze”) will prevent the credit bureaus from selling your data to anyone. It will not prevent hackers from stealing that info, but it will make it very difficult for them – or for those who buy that data from them – to use this data to open credit accounts in your name and steal your identity. If they submit your data to a credit card company to apply in your name for a credit card, the credit card company checks with credit bureaus to confirm this information and review your credit. But since there is a credit freeze on your account, Equifax cannot disclose that information, and the credit card company will not open an account in your name.

Note: Even if you try to open a new bank account or credit account, you will not be able to, unless you first remove the credit freeze. Credit freezes do not impact current banking and credit relationships; they continue as normal.

Here are the pages of the three major credit bureaus where you can request or lift a security freeze: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.

Credit bureaus are required by law to provide this service, otherwise they wouldn’t. They hate it. Selling your data is how they get revenues. Locking this data eliminates those revenues. But it’s the most effective way to protect yourself.

Check Forging Now Made Easier

Now, something I found particularly worrying and learned from this Abagnale interview is how much easier it now is to forge checks– compared to when Abagnale began his scam career.  By that I mean someone recreating a bogus form of your personal check, and then writing against your account.

Note that staying offline doesn’t protect you from this check forging risk– this is not a risk created by the invention of the internet and cyberspace:

Think about this: You go into a convenience store today and write a check for $9. You have to hand the clerk the check with your name and address, phone number, your bank’s name and address, your account number at your bank, the routing number into your account. That’s your wiring instructions. Your signature that’s on the signature card at your bank. And then the clerk has written down your state driver’s license number on the front and your date of birth. You don’t get the check back. You can get an image of the check; the physical check goes to [the store’s] warehouse, where eventually, six months from now, they will destroy it.

In the meantime, anyone who would see the face of that check—from the clerk who took it at the counter to the one that made the night deposit—could draft on your bank account tomorrow, would have all the drafting instructions. Or they could go online [and order checks] that look exactly like your checks, but put their name on it and put your account number on it. So every check they write gets debited against your account. It’s so simple to do.

It’s amazing to me that people are writing $9 checks from their wealth-management account, their private banking account, and giving them to some stranger in a store.

Come to think of it, put that way, I now realize it’s pretty amazing as well. And it made me wonder not why identity theft is so frequent, but why it’s not even more frequent. I guess this is yet another argument for using good ole cash. Or at least being very careful about drawing checks on a wealth management account or an account in which one keeps much of a balance. (Of course, if one keeps a minimum amount in one’s checking account, then the bank hits you with exorbitant  fees.)

Yes, I know if someone scams you in this way, it is in theory possible to unwind the damage– but I shudder at the time and effort that would be involved in doing so.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Isn’t Undertaking Enough Consumer Education

Abagnale’s alive to the downward cycle of what at Naked Capitalism we call crapification– although he wouldn’t use such a term to describe it.  This applies to the government more or less opting not to focus on a consumer protection agenda — I know, regular readers will say, that’s a feature, not a bug.  And I expect that at least a couple of commentators will point out to me that I’m naive to think that I’m part of the constituency the government is supposed to act on behalf of. Instead, it’s donors, lobbyists, and big corporations that call the shots– and they generally espouse a consumer fleecing rather than a consumer protection agenda.

I myself largely agree with that criticism but note that it wasn’t always this way– the baseline here has certainly changed in my lifetime:

I don’t think we’ve done a lot to really protect consumers. Back in the 1970s, before I ever wrote a book or anyone knew who I was, I did a series of public-service ads for the Department of Justice that were really well filmed. They were all about 30-second ads. They were all very well written, and very well done. I recently testified with the U.S. Senate about the Federal Trade Commission, and the fact is these things aren’t done anymore. There are no public-service ads, and if there are bank-statement stuffers added, they’re selling some product of the bank.

Abagnale also doesn’t see that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has done very much to reverse that trend:

That agency has really not done much to protect the consumer. What they’ve done is gone out and found a lot of [wrongdoing at] financial institutions and banks and brought in a lot of money to the Treasury, but they haven’t done a lot to help the actual consumer from being a victim. If they wanted to really help the consumer from being a victim, they would be doing a lot more trying to educate the consumer.

Now, on his broader point– enforcement, and bringing money into Treasury– I think he overstates the case. I’ve written about the CFPB’s enforcement and rulemaking failings, most recently in House Votes to Overturn CFPB Mandatory Arbitration Ban and Payday Lending and the CFPB: Another Pending Cordray Fail. The CFPB were largely part and parcel of the previous administration’s cadre of financial sector enablers, part of the Too Big to Jail consensus.  Too much enforcement wasn’t attempted, and too little rule marking done– and that which was, done so late as to render these efforts vulnerable to overturn under Congressional Review Act procedures.

But on the issue of consumer education, I think Abagnale’s correct. This is just another example of where the CFPB has failed to live up to its potential– and I would ignore all the screaming and yelling and gnashing of teeth on the part of critics of the agency who pretend it’s thus far imposed significant constraints on financial industry practices.

Bottom Line

Technology certainly makes it easier to pull off certain kinds of scam, but not all of these are tied to the internet, nor would they be prevented by better cybersecurity. So, hat tip to Frank Abagnale for making me aware  of some of these other risks– and what I might do to protect myself against them.

 

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32 comments

    1. justanotherprogressive

      +100 Exactly what I thought when I read Jerri-Lynn’s article!! I can’t freeze my credit right now because I have some house renovations that have to be done…..

      1. Arizona Slim

        Same here. And for the exact same reason.

        My house. It’s old. It needs renovation. And it keeps demanding more money for said renovation.

        My house. It’s just like the kids I never had.

        1. ambrit

          As I told a “Mr. Smith” from a ‘recovery’ service in Atlanta, over the phone, when he ‘warned’ me about the negative effects not paying off a bill that was in dispute would have on my credit score; “You obviously haven’t read my credit history, have you?”
          It’s available funds or nothing for this family. It always has been, and probably always will be.
          Oh, and, it’s not only our house that needs some ‘renovation.’
          I will “freeze” our credit though. As we’re finding out with a vengeance right now, greed and corruption are the zeitgeist of this era.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Imagine you had access to 140+ million digital IDs — along with various other bits of virtual representations for those 140+ millions of personal identities — how might you acquire the greatest gains in the least time with the least risk?

      Is there some way you might tap into the 401K holdings of some of your victims — perhaps making quick exploit of an insider or insiders well placed at Fidelity? or Vanguard? and/or other similar institutions? Could you change a carefully selected subset of addresses of record in their internal databases? I don’t know whether any such exploits might work but really — why mess around with a trickling few grand here and a few grand there raiding tax returns or credit card numbers if you can tap directly into a well.

      Our IDs — even our checking accounts — have never really been safe. That supposed safety was little more than hopeful thinking and willful blindness. Victims were too few too far between to receive our diverted notice. But now?

      I fear the Equifax breach may become something uncomfortably close to a reverse “Mr. Robot” event. Per your comment — “we mopes are soooo screwed..,”

  1. Wukchumni

    Boy, ain’t that the truth…

    Many decades ago, i’d have scammers of all persuasions attempt to rip me off, and the difference being that almost all of them required a physical presence to pull it off, you couldn’t try and pass a fake cashier’s check by mailing it to the intended victim of your crime.

    …you had to be there

    1. Arizona Slim

      IMHO, frozen credit should be your default state. If you want to un-freeze it, well, that should be free of charge and for a darn good reason.

      1. polecat

        So who freezes the the big three walk-in$ ??
        They obviously are malicious entities !
        And WTF is Congress, or the $EC, or whatever three-letter agency doing to keep us from getting reamed, through no fault of our own ?
        Zip, that’$ what !

        …. What’s not to hate !?!

    2. FreeMarketApologist

      I’m fortunate to live in New York state, which, if you have filed a police report that your identity has been stolen (or has been put at risk, a la Equifax), by law there is no charge to place, remove, or restore a credit freeze. I have to go to the hassle of getting a completed police report, but at this point I think it’s way to go. It means that I am more in control of my data because:
      1) The credit bureaus can no longer monetize *my* data and put me at risk
      2) I have some evidence that I acted reasonably timely to notify authorities of my data being at risk through Equifax’s errors, which puts me in a better legal position in the event of problem(*), and could improve my standing as a potentially damaged party in a legal proceeding against Equifax.

      I am also fortunate that I am unlikely to be opening new credit lines or bank accounts through anybody else than established relationships. (Yes, I have more renovations to go on an 1828-ish house.)

      (*) Along the lines of the protections you have if you call your credit card company within X days of reviewing your statement and notifying them of fraudulent use.

  2. Wukchumni

    Here’s what it took to pull off a scam, say 30 years ago:

    I get this call from a guy and he tells me he wants to buy something i’m selling, and he’d like to wire me money, and it’ll come in a series of wires over the next week, and so far so good, i’m wondering what’s up?

    So over the course of the week, I get 4x $52k wires into my account, which is weird, who does that?

    Well, the scamster had taken out a small ad in the WSJ selling a Mercedes 500 SL or something like that, and they had just come out, and were in hot demand, and ‘his’ car had 1,351 miles and the reason he gave for selling it, was he was relocated out of the country, and the car was about $10k under sticker price, so enough incentive for four people to want to buy it, and they’re a bit eager to do the deal, and he tells them that a number of people are interested, if you want it, wire me the money, and that’s what they did, but he had them wire the money right to me.

    I agree with Frank Abagnale, it’s so much easier to pull off a scam now, versus then. Think of all the effort the aforementioned scam artist had to go through to attempt to fleece me, which was in it’s way, a work of art.

  3. lyman alpha blob

    And it made me wonder not why identity theft is so frequent, but why it’s not even more frequent.

    Precisely. It is ridiculously easy to steal almost anyone’s financial information. Credit cards are the worst and about the only way to make sure your number is never stolen is to not have a credit card at all. I am involved with credit card processing at my company and there are any number of people who do not like to pay by credit card directly over the internet because they fear, justifiably so, that the data could be hacked at some point. Yet these very same people often don’t seem to have a problem emailing their entire credit card number to me despite the fact any number of entities are hoovering up everyone’s email all the time, or alternatively they will want to read off their credit card number to me, a total stranger, over the phone.

    I do think most people are trustworthy and that’s why this type of fraud isn’t more prevalent. That’s the good news. But all this technology just makes it easier for the bad apples to do way more damage than they ever would have been able to in the past.

    Abagnale says in his interview that he knew he would eventually get caught. I’m not so sure that’s the case these days with a lot of these scams. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, but we see lots of reports of data breaches and large scale fraud but not so many about the perpetrators being caught.

    1. JTMcPhee

      How often do the perpetrators get to double down by extracting $$$ from the mediums of fraud to show how they did it and patch the weaknesses, or get hired into the state security system to add their expertise to the growing Blob that at some point might just feel itself potent enough to do a “nice world economy you got there — be too bad if something happened to it” global extortion?

      My last eight months in the Army in 1969, as a clerk with the Headquarters Company of the 2d Armored Division (“Hell On Wheels!”) at Ft. Hood, the Brass decided it was time to computerize personnel and payroll. So they hired some contractors to put it all together, in the days of tape-drive mainframes and punch cards. Came the day they turned it on, and shortly thereafter many millions of dollars just disappeared, apparently to “numbered Swiss accounts.” It seems the contractors had arranged things to allow payouts to themselves, but once the transactions were concluded, they were able to remove the punch cards and erase the tapes, disappearing the audit trail. And as I recall the gossip, the Brass had to pay the perps a bunch more and agree not to try to prosecute them, to get the system closed up a bit more effectively.

  4. ThePol

    Plus overwhelmed by tones of scam calls on my cell phone calling from all over. You block one, they mange to call from a different number.

  5. Enquiring Mind

    Another ex-con, Kevin Mitnick, has a related book about personal data security. He is very informative, and provides numerous steps and tips for phones, computers, credit and such. The message implications may seem quite depressing, particularly to older readers less habituated or inured to crapified modernity.

  6. kareninca

    My husband’s employer was hacked about a year and a half ago, and our info was part of the hack, so at that time we put freezes on all three credit agencies. Along with our credit union account, we also have a Wells Fargo account. Which I would like to get rid of, for obvious reasons. But to do so I would have to find another bank to substitute for it (the credit union is not sufficient). This would require a) finding a bank that is less scummy than Wells Fargo, and b) unfreezing our credit, thereby providing money to Equifax et al.. So for now we’re sticking with Wells Fargo. The people at our local branch are really good; I guess that’s something.

    I’m hoping to never, ever have to unfreeze our credit reporting accounts; I don’t want those companies to make a penny out of us.

  7. Wisdom Seeker

    There are reasons why you might not want to “freeze” your credit accounts:

    1) To put the freeze on, you have to provide a lot of personal data, which validates what they think they have about you, and puts more of your data into more databases, from which it can be stolen in more ways. Why give away yet more valuable information to people who have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted?

    2) The freeze would only protect you from people trying to borrow money in your name. A freeze won’t protect you from people using your already-stolen personal data for other nefarious ends. And given recent events, one can no longer have complete faith that the rating agency will actually “freeze” your info. It might release it in other ways that you’re not aware of.

    3) You’re rewarding the protection racket: “Gee, that’s a nice credit rating you got there, be a shame if anything happened to it. Pay us and we’ll keep it private. We promise. Really!”

    1. oh

      I happen to think the same way. I wish there was a way to completely erase my credit history with these “agencies” (crooks).

  8. ewmayer

    I tried to do as Wolf suggested, to place a security freeze with Equifax using their (as they recommend) online form for doing so. Two attempts on consecutive days – both came up “System Currently Unavailable – Error 500”. And I really don’t feel like wasting god-knows-how-much-time on the phone with them right now because of *their* fubar, nor of spending even more time providing the other debt-merchant-serving credit bureaus with tons of personal info and money just to do what should be the default for them, assuming there is even a legitimate reason to allow thei continued existence, which is striking me as more dubious with each passing day.

    I did manage to get to the related site (the one linked to the ID protection racket Equifax is peddling) that takes the last 6 of your SS# and tells you whether it’s likely your data were compromised, it came up negative in my case. I’m just gonna hope that having used only a single *debit* card, no CCs, for the past 25 years, will work in my favor here. And of course keep a close eye on that account.

    1. knowbuddhau

      Same here. Only took 10m35s to get through. Was told a PIN is in the mail. We’ll see.

      The other two were easy peasy.

      Now I’m not sure I need a monthly credit monitoring service. What’s there to monitor? So I could end up saving money.

      This all fits within my rather bearish strategy I like to call BFI: brace for impact. Kidding/not kidding.

      More to your point, crapification is increasing, and the rate of the increase is increasing, too. I have a recent example.

      I went to an arts festival and bought a lot of Christmas gifts. The merchants were from all over so a temporary hold was placed on my debit card. But it never inconvenienced me, it was gone the next day, and I’m still using it.

      Somehow, though, Kaiser Permanente couldn’t handle that minor turbulence. They stopped billing me altogether. It gets worse.

      When I went to the main website, I searched in vain for any way to pay. Not only was there no indication at all that I was in arrears, there was an actual note saying I had no bills. But I knew that was wrong.

      So I go to send an email, asking how to pay. Click submit – and it kicks me out. THREE TIMES. It did the same damn thing the time before. By the third try I could barely see straight. I was less than polite.

      Some days later I got a letter. The very nice lady apologized, suggested several ways I could spend more time getting their web site to work, and best of all, could not tell me why they stopped billing me.

      How do you like that? That KP stopped billing me because of that temporary hold is my best guess. I don’t really know. Now they think I owe them more money for their failure to bill me, which they failed to explain.

      You might think this off-topic, but this is precisely my point. I just went to an arts festival one day and I’m still dealing with the aftermath months later. Likewise, I was just sitting here, probably watching a science documentary, when Equifax got hacked.

      We’re going to go careening from one Charlie Fox to another, and call it the new normal.

      Think I’ll watch “Brazil” and call it a night.

      Hailed for its groundbreaking visual effects and satirical story, Brazil is one of the most highly regarded films of all time and a bona fide cult classic. Jonathan Pryce stars as Sam Lowry, a grey-suited government clerk who finds his life turned upside-down when he gets involved in a case of mistaken identity. Categorized as an enemy of the state, Sam is propelled into a surreal romance with the woman of his dreams, who may also be a terrorist. Co-starring Robert De Niro and Michael Palin, director Terry Gilliam’s modern masterpiece is a pitch-black comedic look at a “perfect” future where technology reigns supreme.

      1. Ned

        “I went to an arts festival and bought a lot of Christmas gifts.”
        “I just went to an arts festival one day and I’m still dealing with the aftermath months later.”

        Shame on you for not paying the artists in cash. It would have avoided all the problems.

  9. Too Late For Nostalgia

    Another excellent article on a critical subject that affects us all.

    The steps required to keep your personal data secure are getting more extreme.

    As mentioned in the article, it’s a feature not a bug.

  10. Nonesuch

    Small story about a check scam on me. I’m a small business owner and a few years ago one of my employees lost her paycheck. She thought it might have been lifted from her purse while on the bus. Okay, I’ll stop payment and reissue the check.

    About a week later while looking at the business account online, I saw a check for just under $800 I never wrote that was pending. I went to my bank, then Wells Fargo, and told them I did not recognize this check. They printed a copy of the check. It was an almost exact copy of the lost paycheck except of course the amount and the payee. It seems these scammers simply copied the stolen check, manipulated it on a computer, and printed it out on check stock. They then cashed it at a local Wells Fargo bank.

    This was about the third time in two years some sort of fraud with my business account occurred with Wells Fargo.

    In the end, I had to shut down my account, open up a new account, call each of my vendors about the account change, contact all the accounts I had that were automatically paid through the old account, and submit new account information to each and every vendor with whom I did business. I have a lot of vendors.

    Still some checks got through and bounced. Wells Fargo, in their quest to continue profiting even from a small fry like myself, charged me $30 for each check bounce, regardless of the fact they told me to close this account.

    I no longer do business with them.

  11. Norb

    When does the level of tolerated criminal activity reach a tipping point? For years, credit card scams and fraudulent activity have been absorbed into the system and written off through higher prices, inevitably paid for by lawful consumers. How often has one heard the phrase, “it’s just the cost of doing business”, as a way of explaining away the need to effectively deter criminality.

    It will be interesting to see how the banking and business community deals with these latest security breaches. Squeezing consumers in still more ways to make up for the inherent weakness in the system will only lead to its ultimate demise. You cannot abuse personal trust forever. Any system based on abuse of trust is inherently weak.

    In the US, crumbling infrastructure isn’t the only indication of the rot within. The weakening of the citizenry is also manifest in the daily financial scams one has to contend with. Sure, people with the wherewithal will successfully protect themselves and alter their habits accordingly. However, most will not, for various reasons, and become just that much more impoverished- And angry. No wonder half the population now lives in poverty. No wonder the elite are now facing a legitimacy problem. The slow, relentless, nickel-and-diming produces such a result.

    Endless war, price gouging healthcare industry, fraudulent financial institutions, and a business ethic dominated by large corporations bent on increasing their power at the expense of the larger community. It truly is a system eating itself.

    The wheel of life turns, and the most promising outlook for those not wishing to continue in the current morass is reestablishing modes of personal trust and local community. Without that, citizens have nothing.

    Will crime and poverty be with us forever? I think that is the wrong question. The question is are you willing to fight crime and poverty or are you going to ignore and accept their existence. It is an ongoing, never ending process of resistance. At the moment, criminality has the upper hand, but the more it reveals itself the easier to combat. Criminality eventually burns itself out.

    Cutting up your credit cards and learning how to live without them seems like a good place to start. Keep one for emergencies.

  12. McWatt

    What happens after they successfully get rid of cash, when a hurricane hits and all power is down

    and nobody can use credit cards?

    1. ambrit

      As a survivor of the ‘Katrina Experience’ I can tell you that you resort to barter and suffer the ‘tender ministrations’ of FEMA, the local State agencies and assorted “officially sanctioned” private ‘charities.’
      (I can personally testify to several cases of out in the open looting, both retail and wholesale, that occurred after that hurricane. Desperate people will do desperate things, and crooks will be crooks.)

    2. oh

      I streamed a Japanese movie called “Survivor Family” and it portrays the trials and tribulations of a Japanese family when there’s a power outage in Tokyo. The can’t use their cell phones, ATM, transit and buy any food even with cash. As food shortages kick in, they decide to bike to Kagoshima (in southern Kyushu). Even barter seems impossible. It’s not improbable for this scenario to unfold in the US with the impending doom of global warming. Too may people are living in Denial. Learn to use and stock up on cash, use the bicycle and throw away your cell phone!

  13. ChrisFromGeorgia

    I wonder how many millions Equifax spent on security audits, consultants, and in-house staff to pass different regulatory requirements, or at least go through the motions.

    There are many cyber-security companies that make beaucoup $$ off of this racket.

    Another type of scam, somewhat analogous to the old “pay me protection money or your pizza parlor will get conveniently robbed every other day” one used by the mob.

  14. Patsy

    Did all 3 freezes. 2 charged me $10.00 — Transunion and Equifax — due to ‘state law’. All 3 gave me immediate PIN numbers. The entire process took 17 minutes.

  15. Ned

    When scam callers robo-call you, click through and agree to whatever they are selling you with a phony address for service calls, a fake name and most importantly, give them a fake address “to correct their database”. They waste your time, waste theirs.

    Help make their lists of suckers so unreliable, no local company will trust or hire them after multiple phony service calls–on Friday afternoon and in places where rush hour traffic will cost them hours to escape. (Grin)

    Guess who called me after I was solicited from India for ” a duct cleaning special offer”?
    Sears Home Improvement center. Had a nice conversation with the young woman at the other end who was in the U.S. and informed her in simplified language about Lampert and Private Equity and how he had screwed over the company, her coworkers and country. I had her repeat how his scam worked back to me. She understood by Jove! What I wouldn’t give to hear the conversations in the break room at her U.S. call center–if she even gets a break.

  16. Thor's Hammer

    I never have problems with telemarketers since I adopted a simple solution. As soon as they offer me a free trip to Las Vegas along with 500 bonus chips or start speaking in a heavy West African accent, I tell them I have to give the wife the great news. I then pick up the air powered horn I use to signal bridge openings when I’m boating and give it a long 150db blast into the receiver.

    Permanent hearing loss makes it difficult for them to continue in the same line of work.

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