Saturday, November 08, 2008

Telephone Call Offering to Lower Interest Rate is a Scam!

Cheap long distance, the ability to spoof caller ID and the credit crisis are being used to facilitate a scam called vishing. Although telephone (telemarketing) scams are nothing new, the term vishing probably came about because advances in telephone technology are being used to depart unsuspecting people of their hard-earned money.

The term vishing was coined from the word phishing. Internet scammers phish the waters of the Internet using spam e-mail as bait. Once a person falls for their "too good to be true" lure -- personal and financial information is stolen using social engineering (trickery) or malicious software designed to data-mine the information right off the infected machine. The personal and financial information is then used to commit financial crimes, which is often referred to as identity theft.

In the past week, I've received several calls where a computerized voice informs me that the offer to lower my interest rate is almost over. It then says to press "1" if I want to lower my interest rate.

I went ahead and pressed the number "1" to see what this "too good to be true" offer was all about. After a few seconds, a female voice came on and asked me if I was interested in lowering my interest rate. I told her I was and she asked me for the 800 number of my financial institution so she could verify my eligibility. Since this is public information, I went ahead and gave one to an institution, I no longer do business with. While I was digging up the number on the Internet, she made a lot of inquires about how many lines of credit I was behind on. After providing her with the 800 number, she asked me to give her all the credit card numbers that I wanted to lower the interest rate on.

At this point, I had very little doubt I was dealing with a scam designed to steal credit card numbers. At no point did she identify a financial institution -- and besides that -- no financial institution would make a cold call and ask for credit card numbers. Additionally, when was the last time a financial institution offered to lower an interest rate to an existing customer unless they were being bailed out by the government (taxpayer)?

I asked if she felt good about ripping people off and if I could speak to her supervisor. Of course, I was never referred to a supervisor and after cursing at me, she hung up. Trust me, from the vulgar language that was expressed, this call was not being recorded for training purposes!

In the past couple of years, we've seen reports of vishing. In the case, I'm writing about a dialer system is obviously being used. Dialers are used by collection agencies, telemarketing companies, political campaigns and even charities to direct calls to live employees. Basically, dialers screen the calls via computer to make the process more efficient.

Having never priced one, I decided to see what Google had to offer. I found them to be rather inexpensive starting at a mere few hundred dollars. There were also options to use already set-up systems on a cost-per-call basis.

Caller-ID spoofing services can be purchased legally and are used by a lot of legitimate companies to entice us to pick up calls. Because of this, it is probably wise not to put your faith in caller-ID.

Some blame VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology for vishing. VoIP has made calling long distance cheap.

So far as where the victim lists are obtained, they can be easily purchased. My phone number has been unlisted for over 20 years, but information brokers data-mine information from every source imaginable, including magazine subscriptions. Since these lists are worth money, companies who gather information routinely sell the marketing information they gather on all of us. It also isn't unknown for dishonest employees to sell information directly to criminals. Often this is done right on the Internet in chat rooms, which keeps the transaction fairly anonymous.

Recently, the FBI announced that they stung an Internet forum used to sell stolen information known as Dark Market. At it's peak, the group had 2500 registered members and it is estimated that they prevented losses of $70 million (worldwide) by cracking this case.

Even the IRS and Social Security have been impersonated in the past two years in vishing schemes.

InsideCRM magazine recently published an article detailing 50 ways to protect your privacy. This magazine represents the call center industry and has a stake in fighting vishing activity, which gives legitimate e-commerce a black eye. If you (like a lot of us) enjoy the hassle-free environment shopping at home, the article is a great educational resource.

The U.S. government has also set up a highly visual and interactive site to educate people about crimes being enabled by technology. Please note this site is available in Espanol, also.

While both of these sites are designed to cover computer security issues in addition to telecom type scams, we need to remember that a lot of these scams probably started before telephones or computers made them easier to do, as well as, more efficient.

Scams rely on human emotion and greed. Knowing this is the best way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. The "too good to be true" principle coupled with "does the transaction make sense" is the best way to figure out whether an offer is legitimate or NOT!


Suzie Super Saver! said...

How do we stop these guys. They call me everyday at 3:00. I have asked over and over to be removed from the list. they say they will, but don't. i have begun being pretty rude, asking them how they sleep at night, wasting their time, like they waste mine. I know I could just hang up, but they should stop calling. It's harrassment!

Anonymous said...

I got a call today (press '9' to lower interest rate.) I simply demanded that they remove my number from their list, and the representative, after pointing out "you didn't say please," hung up on me. Can't someone find these guys and stop them?

Lauren said...

I'm glad to find out this is a scam. They call me everyday and leave a message but I've never picked up.

Anonymous said...

I just received one of their calls. I asked if they were calling from Chase and they said that they were calling from the home offices of Visa and Master Card. I told them I was not interested.

The caller ID was spoffed as 002-299-0895.

Anonymous said...

Number came up on caller id
305-474-9429, I got to her before she got me!!! Got her good. Than Filed with FCC

Anonymous said...

Have fun with it. Give them bogus numbers. Sing songs to them. (I played a variety of instruments.) I had one caller repeat his question 4 times (I kept saying "What???") until he finally hung up on ME! Tee hee! We can't beat them, so why not play into their silly game and waste as much of their time as we can.

Anonymous said...

I have been receiving calls from them everyday. I almost gave my CC number to them but backed away. Now I have fun with them and waste as much of thei time as much I could.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who would like to know more about their modus operandi, go to:

You will find some investigations carried by people like you and me.

Anonymous said...

Some of these calls are from legit companies trying to help people lower the interest rate on their MORTGAGES. They are trying to help people who fell victim to predatory lending. These calls are not a scam, they are part of a solution to the crisis the economy is in.

Haggstrom said...

I pressed 1 and a woman answered. I said "I don't have a credit card!" and she immediately hung up on me.

Anonymous above me: the robocall specifically says they can lower the interest rate on your credit card, and it absolutely is a scam.

Anonymous said...

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Kate Stepman
Cell phone blocker

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this important information. Every day for the past week we've been getting calls and today got the call that said, "today is the last day for this offer." Being that they only say "your lending institution" I was leary about pressing any numbers and did a Google search and found your post.

Thank you for confirming my suspicions that this was some sort of a scam.

I would love to see some way to report these individuals and take action. Enough is enough already.

Anonymous said...

When I pressed 1, the guy asked for the bank name on my card, then he GAVE me the 1st 4 digits of my cc# to "prove" he's legit. He also gave me the next 2 numbers. After more reassurances - like he'll never ask for the 3-digit security code - he asked for the last 8 numbers of my cc. That's when I stopped. I'm guessing that anyone can figure out the first 6 numbers if they know the bank. I won't give any caller the last 8 numbers, and I won't be talking to these people again!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I have been getting calls from them people wanting to lower my interest rates for sometime now. I get very aggravated about it. I don't have a credit card and don't want one. They called from different numbers and everytime they call, I would file a complaint on the FTC website. Today was weird when they called. On my caller ID, it came up as my husband's name and my phone number. I told them numerous times to stop calling, and even pressed 2 to be removed from the call list. I am on the "Do not call" list.