Monthly Archives: May 2011

Scam Alert- Tell your Kids!

Microsoft has an alert out to watch for a scam targeting players of the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on Xbox 360.

The hugely popular online game has a messaging system that is being used for “phishing attempts”.

Phishing messages are designed to steal your identity. They ask for personal data, or direct you to websites or phone numbers to call where they ask you to provide personal data. In this case, the messages are coming through the game’s messaging system so, unless you too are playing these games, the message is going to go to your kids!

What does a phishing message look like?

Phishing messages take a number of forms:

  • In this case it is likely to appear as if it is coming from Microsoft.
  • They might ask you to make a phone call. Phone phishing scams direct you to call a phone number where a person or an audio response unit waits to take your account number, personal identification number, password, or other valuable personal data.
  • They might include official-looking logos and other identifying information taken directly from legitimate websites, and they might include convincing details about your personal history that scammers found on your social networking pages.
  • They might include links to spoofed websites where you are asked to enter personal information.

    But, you might be thinking, it’s my kid, what could he do?

    Well, my one of my sons just bought a Map Pack with a credit card so if he got a message telling him that he input his number wrong and to please call with a current card….he might be fooled!

    But, not anymore, because he’s been warned!  (and we took the entire box away but that’s another blog!)


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Really Bank of America?

Well, this is sort of a deviation from what I thought I was going to post, but it’s still relevant and since it happened only minutes ago very current!

I’m the Treasurer for a non-profit organization.  Today I received a message on my home phone from Bank of America, which is where our accounts are held.  This is the message:

“Hi.  This is Darren (no last name) from the Bank of America.  Some information that you reported on your W-9 bounced back to us and we need you to call and confirm your Federal Tax ID.  If you call and get a message you can leave the information on our answering machine.  Thank you, have a great day.”

Well, that’s an odd message.  We’ve been doing business with them forever, and we complete the same W-9 form every year.  In fact, I have only one W-9 and I’ve been sending the same one to all requestors all year and nobody else has called and said there were any problems.  Hmmmmm.

So, I look at the Caller ID.  It’s Out-of-Area.  That’s weird too because when they call to sell me a mortgage their name shows up (that’s how I know not to answer the phone!).  So, I call the number.  It’s a machine that does not say, “you’ve reached Bank of America” it says “you’ve reached the processing center…please input your account number so we can better serve you”.  Wow.

So, I input “0”, and someone picks up and she also does not introduce herself as a Bank of America employee.  I explain the message that I received and my complete disbelief that if this really was the Bank of America that anyone in the financial services industry would seriously be asking these questions over the phone or expecting that they would be responded to.

She explained that Bank of America acts as processors for other institutions and therefore they don’t say their name on the phone because someone could be calling who is a customer from another bank.

And then she asked me for my taxpayer identification number!  I explained that she would need to mail me the request, and that I had no intention of providing that information over the phone.

So, now I’ll wait for the letter in the mail!  And the scary thing is, I actually think that was a legitimate call from the Bank of America, and I can’t believe in these times that it was made!

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Stolen Corporate Identity: What is It and Could It Happen to You?

Almost 100% of the time when I mention that I focus on Corporate Identity Theft and its prevention, I get a blank stare.

Everyone understands Personal Identity Theft.  That’s when someone gets your personal information and is able to execute transactions in your name, usually damaging your credit in the process.

We’ve all heard about people spending months trying to prove who they are, and who they are not.

With all the focus on individuals, however,  we are ignoring that a new thief has moved into town and he’s successfully targeting companies-he’s the Corporate Identity Thief!

Corporate Identities are being stolen, it’s a growing problem,  and it’s troubling how little owners, executives, attorneys and advisors know about it.  In order to prevent it, you need to know about it.

There are so many different ways to perpetrate corporate identity theft, and new scams being developed daily.  No matter the method,  the end the result is the same- loss of assets and loss of reputation.  It’s a very real problem and, until large and small businesses take an active role in protecting their identities, brands, and images, thieves will be on the lookout for opportunities to exploit those weaknesses.

This month I will be focusing on some of more common methods used to steal the identities of businesses and the controls that can be put into place to avert the risks to your assets and your reputation.

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