#265 Reminder: Be Wary of Phishing Scams by Phone

February 04, 2016

Phishing is the process of fraudulently acquiring personal and financial information for use in identity theft or other malicious schemes.


Although Phishing typically happens via email or the web, it can also occur over the phone.


Be wary of unsolicited phone calls from companies or organizations asking for personal information including automated systems requesting that you call them back. Do not provide confidential information over the phone including credit card numbers, bank numbers, passwords and SSNs. Callers may also ask for technical specifics including computer or printer information or pose as an employee from a well known company offering support. Unfortunately, you cannot always trust caller ID as identity theft scammers are known to manipulate Caller ID to have it display a legitimate business’s name.


Some common voice phishing scams include:

Printer Scam:
A typical scam begins with a phone call from someone identifying themselves as being an individual on campus requesting printer model numbers or offering toner for printers or copiers. If the info is provided, toner is then shipped to the individual who is charged at prices up to three times the typical amount. The caller may also be seeking a printer’s IP address. If you receive a call like this, you should end it without providing any printer details.

Microsoft Support Scam:
Another common scenario is an intended victim getting a phone call from someone who claims to be from “Microsoft tech support.” The person is calling to alert the victim that their computer has been hacked and offers assistance to recover the computer. When pressed for details, the caller is vague, will repeat sentences from a prepared script, and if pushed hard enough will just hang up. Microsoft is aware of this scam and posted this article with background and safety tips: https://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx.


If you have other questions, concerns, or would like to notify us of a suspected phishing attempt, please contact ITS (898-9140 or ITShelp@law.upenn.edu).

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