BBB serving Greater Maryland President and CEO, Angie Barnett, talks to WBAL TV reporter, Barry Simms, about the "Can you hear me now" scam. Click here to watch the video.
Shortly after the story aired Monday, a Millersville, Md. woman reached out to say it happened to her.
She explained to BBB that upon answering a call at 11:37 pm and hearing what sounded like "mumbling" on the other end of the line, a caller said her name and asked if it was her. When the woman said, "Yeah, but who is this," the caller repeated her name, asking if it was her.
According to the Anne Arundel County grandmother, the caller became "aggressive" and proceeded to state her home address. Caller i.d. revealed "unknown caller," so unable to determine their identity, she hung up.
About an hour later, around 12:30 am, the woman hopped online after seeing her husband off for an early-morning shift at work. It was then that she saw three security alerts from her financial institution in her spam email folder.
The first was for $748.66 payable to Shop.ca at 11:52 pm. Another $303.06 to Shop.ca was attempted minutes later at 11:55 pm Sunday night. The alerts kept coming, another for $0 at 12:16 Monday morning, to a British supermarket, $259.83 to Cour Municipal Gatin in Quebec and another Canadian entity in Ottawa later in the day for $259.27.
After speaking with a representative at M&T Bank, she identified an earlier charge to an online business for $14.52 that had failed to trigger an alert and had indeed "hit" her account. Thankfully, she was able to catch it early and the charge was included in the investigation of disputed charges.
It's impossible to know at this time if the Sunday night call and the fraudulent charges were linked, but the timing was eerie. The caller had personal information and was voice-phishing or "vishing" for more.
With so many data breaches on record in the last few years, it's important to recognize that the black market is brimming with personal data - and some of it might just be yours. BBB reminds consumers to take stock of warnings to lock-down social media privacy and location settings, avoid over-sharing personal information through social media and unsecured communications - like text messages, or unencrypted websites.
For more information on identity theft visit the Federal Trade Commission and Fighting Identity Crimes by BBB Accredited Business EZShield, Inc. To report a suspected scam and see what others have reported go to BBB Scam Tracker.