When 34-year-old Peter Gunst had a close call with a sophisticated new phishing scam, he was alarmed enough to warn others. In interviews with CBS News and CNN Gunst, the technology lawyer explained how the scam works and why he almost fell for it.
It started with a phone call from someone who claimed to be from the fraud department at Gunst’s bank. She said there had been a series of attempted withdrawals from his account and asked if any were his. When he said they weren’t, the woman asked for his bank ID number and moments later Gunst received a text from his actual bank with a verification code, all of which seemed legitimate.
But the verification code allowed the scammer to reset Gunst’s password, and when he read it to her over the phone, it gave her access to his bank account. The woman was ready to set the hook and ask Gunst for his four-digit PIN.
That’s when he realized he was dealing with a scammer. Gunst hung up, called his bank’s real fraud department, and placed a freeze on his account.
Gunst had avoided a costly loss to a scammer, but he was one of the lucky ones. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported last week that scam victims are getting younger and their losses are getting bigger.
Adults aged 60 and older were less likely than younger consumers to lose money to scammers, but their losses were bigger when they did . They also were more likely to report losing money to certain types of scams.
Older consumers were nearly five times more likely to report losing money to tech support scams than younger consumers. They were also more likely to fall for impostor fraud like the grandparent scam, where someone impersonates a friend or family member. Prize, sweepstakes, and lottery scams showed a more than two-fold difference as well.
Phone scams particularly dangerous
Older consumers were also the most likely victims of phone scams, with online scams a close second. But overall, younger consumers were victimized more times in the last 12 months than the older generation.
To avoid becoming a victim of increasingly sophisticated phishing scams, remember that your bank or credit card company will have no need to ask you for confidential information since they already have access to your account.
Someone asking for a PIN or password is clearly an imposter, and the thing to do is immediately hang up and call your bank or credit card company’s fraud department to report the encounter.