There have been numerous instances of call center frauds in India in past decade. These frauds have evolved with the time. Initially, these frauds were limited to selling the sensitive data of the clients. But as the money in the trade increased, big IT companies got involved in the business, the game changed completely.
Though a lot of measures are being taken by the Indian government like making special cells and raid teams and also collaborating with various foreign agencies to deal with these fraudsters.
Here are some popular scams that you must be aware of to save yourself some financial pain in future.
What I am presenting you is an overview of various different ways these call centers can con you, or may be already had at some point.
This doesn’t mean that these are the only ways. New methods are invented and older ones are tweaked for better efficiency and to keep the money flowing. But you’ll get an idea about how things work. And how they trigger your fears to wash your wallets.
THE MICROSOFT TECH-SUPPORT
This has been prevalent form really long and is still actively used.
A pop up is sent to to your computer reading that your PC is infected with a virus and your data is at risk including your credit cards information and passwords. And it also shows you a fake toll free number of Microsoft Tech Support that you can call to resolve the issue.
If you’ll make a call the person on the other end will present himself as a genius Microsoft technician. And he will provide you with all the relevant minute details to make you believe him. Like his technical level, his employee id for future assistance and he might even show you a real support technician profile at Microsoft website calming it to be him.
Going further he would guide you step by step to take remote access of your computer using some online software like TeamViewer and will end up charging you to fix something that was never really broken.
This scam also has some other variants like Apple and MacAfee tech support.
You can imagine what else can be possible after they have the control of your machine. They might install malwares or delete your files and ask you to pay to recover them. Sometimes they install their custom software that remain hidden and will give them the access of your computer as soon as you will switch it on. And if they find you panicking too much throughout the process they might even sell you subscription of some non existent service asserting that it will protect you from all such mis-happenings in future.
THE DRUG CARTEL / UNPAID TAXES
You may receive a call from someone impersonating to be a member of Law Enforcement, DEA, US Marshal Service, FBI or anything else authoritative you can think of.
And he will tell you that your bank account details were found at a crime scene and were used to make illegal transactions to some drug cartels overseas. And that all your assets will be frozen but you can choose to get arrested and fight in court or you can choose an alternative dispute resolution right now to close this quick.
They may then ask you to buy crypto, or google/amazon gift cards with the money lying in your bank accounts and transfer them to a government safe wallet/account. Which is owned by the scammers obviously.
Also you may receive a call from someone faking to be an IRS officer. He will tell you that you have a few thousand dollars of unpaid taxes. If you don’t pay them now they will freeze your bank account and confiscate your house. If you will believe it without blinking an eye and panic, they might make you do a wire transfer in a local bank account of your country. Usually owned by a silent partner residing there.
The Fake Refunds
This one also has multiple iterations. For ex
- Scammers may call you impersonating as IRS officers telling you that you have some thousands of dollars of tax refunds lying with them
- You may get a pop up from amazon (not really) or an email/text claiming that something (usually the latest iPhone) you have ordered couldn’t be processed and you can claim your refund by calling at some toll free number
- Alternatively this is also used as a follow up to the tech-support scam I have stated before, where they tell you that the money you paid to avail Microsoft assistance will be refunded to you in full, you just need to follow a few more simple steps
Again at first they’ll convince you and take remote access of your computer. Once you fall for that, they will ask you to login into your bank account to process the refund. After you’ll login they will pretend to transfer money while changing the ‘HTML code’ of your current webpage. Which will temporarily inflate the numbers on that webpage. And they will then claim to have mistakenly transferred excess amount and then pressurize you to transfer it back immediately.
And in this way they try to deceive people sometimes twice in a row. If you happened to be smart enough to not give them your machine’s access. They will ask for a small upfront fee like $20-$30 as charges to skip the process and initiate instant refund. Only to disconnect the call after you send them the money.
Pay Day Loans
You may receive a call offering you a pay day loan at super low interest rates from a reputed financial company. And they will lure you to send them some minimal upfront amount, either to verify your bank account, as a small advance commission to process your loan or to prove that you are capable of paying back your debts.
Scammers will claim to be the officials of your internet service provider or telecom operator. And will ask you to pay a service charge to avoid disconnection, or will try to sell you integrated internet plans meant for special customers at huge discounts. Only to milk some money and disappear.
So this was about awareness and protecting ourselves. It is important to educate people about trends in the ever growing scam industry. With the economic growth being all time low and unemployment being all time high. Such frauds are on a significant rise. I hope this will help in saving someone from falling into this trap.
What may be just a few hundred dollars for some of us, might be all someone may have. And worse if he is a senior citizen in his old age who can’t work or maybe can’t even walk a couple of miles.