The sophistication of scams is always on the rise and we got a stark reminder of this came during a recent testimony on C-SPAN, where a Philadelphia attorney shared a harrowing experience of almost falling victim to an AI scam call.
The scammer, using AI voice spoofing technology along with Caller-ID spoofing, impersonated his son, claiming to be in jail and in urgent need of money. Take a moment to listen to his story below (direct Link to watch the video on C-SPAN)
That’s unsettling isn’t it. The FTC is concerned enough it has even announced a “Voice Cloning Challenge“
Then today social engineering master @RachelTobac shared that live call translators will make social engineering easier over the phone by breaking the language barrier. (Which much like AI and over other piece of tech is fascinating and beneficial but can and will be abused.)
Live call translators like this will make phone attacking in another language much easier. We think phone attacks are increasing now — just wait until the attacker doesn’t need to be comfortable in our language to make it happen. https://t.co/UXDSjjWR2Y— Rachel Tobac (@RachelTobac) December 1, 2023
As these tactics evolve it’s crucial to stay informed and prepared. Here are 3 vital steps you can take to protect yourself from falling prey to such sophisticated scam calls.
3 Steps to Protect Yourself
1. Verify the Caller’s Identity
If you receive a distress call from a family member or friend, take a moment to verify their identity. Ask questions that only the actual person could answer. Ask about personal details or a recent shared experience. Be careful not to divulge any private information in case it is a a scammer. Be cautious if they refuse to answer or provide vague responses.
2. Contact Your Family Member Directly
Don’t rely solely on the caller’s information (and remember caller ID can be spoofed).
Reach out to your family member directly using a trusted contact number that you have on record. Confirm their well-being and check if they genuinely need help.
Note that this is not fool-proof as their phone or phone number (via SIM swap) may be stolen. This is unlikely but a possibility you should be aware of.
You may want to contact another family member to ask if they are aware of the situation.
3. Slow down & ALWAYS avoid immediate money transfers
Scammers often pressure victims to make quick decisions. Resist the urge to send money right away. Take your time to verify the situation. Discuss it with other family members or friends to get their input.
Scammers often create a sense of urgency to bypass your logical thinking and pressure you into a quick decision. Slow down & take your time to verify the situation.
Be wary of any call that urgently requests money, especially if it involves unusual payment methods like gift cards or wire transfers.
To quote the FTC “How to Avoid a Scam” website,
Never pay someone who insists that you can only pay with cryptocurrency, a wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram, a payment app, or a gift card. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone
What should you do if you have been the victim of a scam?
- Cease all contact with the scammer.
- Immediately contact your bank and/or financial institution. They may be able to cancel or reverse fraudulent transactions. See the FTC’s website “What To Do if You Were Scammed” for more detailed instructions.
- Report the Scam
- Contact Local Law Enforcement: Call your local police department or sheriff’s office, especially if you lost money or property or had your identity compromised. However, your success will highly depend on their capability to understand and help. Don’t have high expectations.
- Report it to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission): Contact 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the Fraud Report Website.
- If the scammed involved the internet or email then report it to FBI Internet Crime Compliant Center (IC3) at IC3.gov
It’s awful that we have to think this way when some asks for help but the fact is AI is drastically changing the capabilities to alter voice and video so be more wary than ever.