Big retailers’ security breaches, along with mobile device carelessness, could make this a horrible holiday for you. And it could happen when you’re using a cellphone to buy something or when responding to an unfamiliar cellphone number.

That’s because a new survey predicts that “nearly half of all calls to mobile phones” are fraudulent,” said First Orion. It is a mobile phone consulting group that surveyed 1,000 Americans with smartphones and discovered new kinds of phone fraud.

A Sea Change in Scamming

“We’re seeing a shift from quantity to quality as scammers get more sophisticated and more targeted,” warned Gavin Macomber, a First Orion Senior Vice President.

The First Orion study says the latest fraud is enterprise spoofing. It happens when scammers use stolen data from data breaches to impersonate charities or businesses.

“Over 15 percent of those surveyed received a personalized call,” according to the survey. Seventy five percent of those scammed said the criminal knew some personal information about them prior to the call.

How?

Sometimes through data breaches at big retailers. For example, recently Macy’s, a popular web site, admitted in a public filing that it was hit with a data breach for the second time in two years.

“With stolen personal data leaked in mass, consumers are being targeted by much more sophisticated and effective scam calls,” the First Orion survey found.

A Personal Hacking Experience

In a separate study, by customer experience manager Sitel Group, a quarter of Americans said they’ve had personal experience “with hackers stealing their data, credit card cards or financial information.”

The study warned that the majority of young people, Generation Zers, “feel very comfortable” contacting a brand via a phone.

Scammers are also pretending to be charity representatives.

“Of those who received such a call, the First Orion survey found, 24 percent experienced financial loss.” Scammers, the survey added, are also pretending to be representatives of the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and UNICEF.

Please Help Us, Phone Companies

Regulators are “leaning on” carriers and telecommunication companies to authenticate and verify calls on their networks, Macomber adds.

What is the best way to avoid being scammed? Macomber said install a scam blocking device on your phone.

But many don’t. Indeed, some phone users are becoming sloppy. They are putting themselves at risk and it could blow up on them this holiday season.

Making It Easy for the Crooks

According to a survey by security management firm Shred-it, “More than half of Americans (51%) admit to reusing passwords/PINs across multiple accounts (e.g. email, computer log in, phone passcode, bank accounts).”

Women are more likely to reuse passwords than men, the survey said, and Generation Zers more commonly reuse passwords than Baby Boomers.


Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post. The eBook version of his latest book "MoneySense" is available now for Free Download by clicking HERE

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