The Federal Trade Commission has recently gotten countless reports of scam artists pretending to be cable and internet companies. These fraudsters are so good at deception that even the savviest consumer can get duped.
Despite call-blocking apps, software, and caller ID, scam artists are conning hard-working people like you and me of our hard-earned cash over the phone.
A woman recently emailed me saying this very thing happened to her and her husband:
We just received a scam phone call yesterday addressing my husband by name and claiming to be Cox Cable. We had just canceled Cox cable TV two or three days before, which this caller was privy about. They offered a 40% discount if we reconnected. I inquired about the cost, but before he would give me the cost, he wanted to verify our account and asked for my mother’s maiden name. That’s when the red flag went up. I said, ‘May I call you back in 15 minutes’, with the intention of checking out the phone number and calling Cox Cable. The caller replied that he’d call me back. Once I did a Google search of the number and called Cox Cable, I realized it was, in fact, a scam call. The caller didn’t call back. I followed up with a call to my older parents to warn them about these types of scams. The question in my mind is, how did they know we had just canceled cable service with Cox Cable after we’d had it for the past 11 years? Is there a breach in the Cox Cable data system?
How to tell if you are being scammed
Scammers posing as trusted sources like your cable or internet provider make it all the easier for their victims to fall prey to them and willingly give out their personal information. And sadly, more and more scam artists tend to prey on people aged 65 and older because:
- They have good credit
- They tend to be financially secure
- They are trustworthy
Thankfully, there are easy red flags to look out for to determine if the person calling you is genuinely who they claim to be:
- If they ask for personal information over the phone- service providers will never contact you asking for this.
- It is from an unknown phone number- if the number is not one of your contacts or not familiar to you, they are more than likely a scam artist.
Unfortunately, some scam artists are advanced enough to make their caller IDs appear as if they are, in fact, the company they are claiming to be. If they are legit, they will leave a message for you to call them back with the number, allowing you to do a Google search and ensure the number is safe. They are most likely scam artists if they don’t leave a message.
How did the scammers get the woman and her husband’s personal information?
It is alarming that the scam artist appeared to know the maiden name of the woman’s mother and that they had just canceled their cable subscription.
A mother’s maiden name is one of the most popular security questions people choose to authenticate their identity, should they get locked out of their account. Understandable because this is an easy question to remember; however, it’s also easy to track down, as a simple internet search could discover it. Data brokers or “people search” sites collect your information, including your birthday, phone number, and address, from various websites, then sell it to people searching for you online for a small fee.
Fortunately, there are ways to get a handle on what personal information of yours is out there on the internet. The most surefire way is to invest in a trusted removal service, with our most recommended being OneRep.
Among the services OneRep offers:
- Scans for your personal information to remove on nearly 200 websites
- Clean, user-friendly interface
- $8.33 a month for one person/$15 a month for a family of up to 6 (at the time of publication)
- A 5-day free trial is available
As for how they knew about the woman and her husband canceling their subscription, that is strange. It’s not unfathomable to think there may be prying eyes in your email that may reveal you canceled your cable. You may consider locking up your email with a secure email account if these calls keep coming. Our most recommended secure email provider is StartMail:
- Keeps your email private by encrypting every email
- Prevents big tech companies from obtaining your information
- Blocks spyware and protects from malicious links
- Multiple aliases
- Ability to send password-protective messages
Then too, always make sure you have a trusted antivirus program running on all devices. Our top choice is TotalAV. Their product is full of features to keep you safe from malware and protect you when browsing the internet including ransomware protection, real-time antivirus protection, elimination of viruses and malware, a tool to free up your computer’s space, plus more.