The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers about an uptick in vishing, following the recent data breach of one of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax.
Vishing is a form of phishing, where the scammers place a phone call to a potential victim requesting sensitive or personal information. The FTC warning emphasizes that any calls from anyone claiming to be from Equifax are fraudulent.
The federal agency also is providing additional tips to help consumers after the breach that allowed cyber criminals to access names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, and some credit card numbers of about 44 percent of the U.S. consumer population.
- Do not trust the caller ID that appears on the phone display. Scammers can easily spoof, or imitate, actual numbers on those displays to make you think it is from a legitimate caller.
- Hang up on robo calls without pressing numbers or saying anything.
- Consider freezing your credit. This can be a reasonable option, if you do not need to provide access to your reports to anyone. However, it does not prevent you from temporarily unfreezing your credit files when you do apply for credit or fill out an application for housing or a credit card.
- Monitor all payment card charges. Since credit reports include card numbers for your accounts, it is possible these thieves have them all. Check statements regularly and report anything that looks unfamiliar to the card issuer immediately.
- Check your credit reports on a regular basis. You can get them at the annualcreditreport.com website at no charge. Get one every four months to stay on top of them. Consider altering your free credit report requests among the three major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- File your income taxes early. The earlier you can do this, the less likely someone can do it first and get your tax return.
Remember, the more information criminals have about you, the easier it is to not only trick you on the phone and steal from you, but they also can craft realistic phishing email messages and texts, too. So, be on the lookout for those as well. Be proactive about protecting your finances and your identity.