Catfishing On the Internet

Catfishing through dating sites

 

You’ve probably heard of “catfishing,” especially if you use social media or dating websites. Catfishing is when a person pretends to be someone else to trick another person. People who catfish do so for many reasons, including trying to prove a partner is cheating partner, using it to scam someone or using it to cyberstalk or cyberbully someone.

How it Works

Catfishers use social media sites to trick others. They often use dating sites, although other social media websites like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram are used to make people think they’re someone else. Here’s an example from a dating website.

Joan signs up on a dating website. She fills out her information and posts her picture. Joan receives messages almost immediately. Joan has high hopes for meeting new people. She looks at pictures and answers messages. It’s not long before Joan notices strange behavior from some of the men. Here are some things noticed by Joan:

Bad English

Many scammers are not native English speakers. It’s obvious when you talk to a person who doesn’t know what words to use. Joan notices that they use the wrong words, can’t make full sentences, use the wrong tense, or confuse words like there, they’re, and their. Non-English speakers don’t usually use contractions.

Profile Pictures

Joan gets messages from people that don’t have a profile picture. Sometimes there is a real reason for not posting a picture, such as his job, but it usually means that the person is married or not who he claims to be.

Some men look like movie stars. If a picture looks professional or familiar, chances are it’s fake. Do a reverse image search app to find out if the person is real. You can upload the picture into an app or website and search.

The Catfishing Story

Scammers use the same stories over and over. Stories include the person losing his family in an accident, being stranded, or having lost his wife and being left with a young child. If a story sounds familiar, copy and paste some of it into a search engine.

Moving Too Fast

Scammers want money…fast. When catfishing, people will say anything to gain your trust and steal from you as soon as possible. Poetry, gifts and words of love are some ways in which a scammer will try to win you over. If you respond to the gestures, the scammer will try harder to win you over.

The Scam

Once a catfisher has gained your trust, he will ask you for something. It starts with something small, such as a gift card. If you give what he is asking for, the next gift will be something bigger and grow larger with each request.

Protecting Yourself

Fortunately, Joan reads a lot of articles about online dating  and catfishing and has prepared herself. She immediately refuses all requests for money or gifts, blocks unknown callers from her phone, and insists on meeting in public.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, proceed with care and trust your intuition

Reverse Searches for Cell Phone Numbers

Google reverse lookup

Have you ever received a call from an unknown number? How do you know if it’s a call you should answer or ignore? One of the easiest ways to identify an unknown number is to use a reverse phone search. The search will identify the name and location of the owner, whether it is an individual or business. The searches are easy, and usually free. However, if the caller is using a cell phone, the search is a little more difficult.

Search Engines

If you want to search for a phone number, you can do it in one of two ways. The first way is to go onto the Internet and type the information into a search engine like Google. You can also choose to use a website devoted to searches, such as WhitePages.com.

You must type the phone number in with the area code and select “search.” The results will show you the name of the caller. Users prefer websites that are free, however, that’s not always possible. The hosts must pay to get information and keep it up to date. This is especially true when it comes to cell phones.

Why it Isn’t Free

Websites collect data from other sources and then use it to do the searches. The sources include other websites, phone directories, social media, reverse phone directories, and more. While there are free services, the information is often outdated. There isn’t a single source that records and maintains data for cell phones.

Cell Phone Numbers

People can’t get cell phone numbers easily because cell phone companies issue the numbers. Therefore, there isn’t a single directory for cell phone numbers. Traditional phone companies have to interface with other companies which is why it’s possible to have a phone directory of landlines. Companies would have difficulty in maintaining a directory because people change phone numbers frequently. Internet phone numbers make the task more difficult. Intelius, Inc. tried to make a cell phone directory in 2008 but people complained about an invasion of privacy, plus a wireless company threatened to sue.

Cell Phone Look Up

Users can do a search on cell phone numbers, but it is rarely free. First, type “reverse cell phone lookup” into a search engine. You’ll get a list of sites that have the information. Second, pick a site and type in the phone number. You’ll be asked to pay a fee for the search, or you can subscribe to the service. Some sites don’t charge for searches if they are unable to get the information.

Fake Numbers

Some telemarketers and scammers use fake numbers to trick you into answering the phone. To keep from getting repeat calls, you can use an app or the settings on your phone to block the number. If you get repeat calls from someone claiming to be from a government agency, report the activity to the agency and to the Federal Communications Commission.

 

 

 

New Veterans’ Benefits Scam

Scammers target veterans

Veterans are the target of a new benefits scam. Scammers call veterans to talk about their medical care and the Veterans Choice Program. The VCP is a part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program allows eligible vets to access approved health care providers who operate outside the VA network.

Fraudsters try to trick veterans into answering important questions such as social security number, date of birth, and bank account information. In addition to health care scams, the callers approach veterans about updating their information, credit cards or financial services including home loans.

Spoofing

The scam involves using a phone number designed to fool people into believing the call is from the VA. Con artists may use lingo that is related to VA benefits. They may sound like legitimate representatives. They set up phony 1-800 numbers to lure the veteran or family member into thinking that they have reached the VCP. It may contain a message stating that the veteran is eligible for a rebate or other services if the caller supplies a credit card number. The VA will never request financial information over the phone, nor will any other government agency. The real number for the Veterans Choice Program is 866-606-8198.

Callers may also leave a voice message to get you to return the call. A common message: “Your VA profile was flagged for two potential benefits to the changes in the VA program. These are time sensitive entitlements. Please call us back at your earliest convenience.”

If you call the number and it seems suspicious, hang up and verify the number. You can also use a phone app to do a reverse phone search to ensure the number is legitimate. If the call is not legitimate, report it to the VA’s identity theft prevention program, More Than a Number.

Email Scams

Scammers may also use email to get information. They often use official looking logos, seals or letterhead to resemble the real organization they claim to represent. The con artists will try to get you to send money or supply financial information. They will also “phish” for your information. If you receive such an email, you should take down the information, delete the email, and report it to the legitimate organization and to the Federal Trade Commission.

Black Market

Thieves who steal a person’s information may use it for a wide variety of purposes. They may make withdrawals from bank accounts or open credit cards. At worst, they will sell the information on the black market or Dark Web, which means an untold number of people will have access to your information. You should always safeguard that information, but if that happens, there is little that can be done aside from shutting down accounts and opening new ones. Security companies, banks and credit card companies may offer identity theft protection, which is another way to protect yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Use A Reverse Phone Number Lookup?

Looking up phone numbers online

Cell phone users can find many reasons to use an iPhone reverse cell phone lookup app. Unknown numbers top the list. People want to know if the person calling is a neighbor, friend, their child’s school, or a telemarketer. Using a reverse lookup app can tell you the person’s name and address, allowing you to decide whether to answer the phone, let it go to voicemail or block it when the call arrives.

These are a few reasons to use a reverse phone number lookup app:

  • You notice a missed call from Fred Jones at 813-555-1234. Who is Fred Jones and where is the 813 area code?
  • You find a piece of paper or Post-it Note with a phone number written on it and no other information. It’s obviously an important number but you can’t remember why you wrote it down. You can call the number to find out who it belongs to, or much less embarrassing, do a reverse phone number search.
  • You receive a phone call from an unknown number. Should you call back?
  • Your doctor refers you to a specialist and only have his phone number. Use a reverse number search to find the doctor’s location.
  • There are calls on your phone bill that you don’t recognize.

Landlines vs. Cell Phones

Although there are many online services that allow you to lookup landline and business phone numbers, mobile phone numbers can be trickier and are almost never free. Why? Most cell phone users choose not to have their numbers published. Many are private and want to stay that way. Individual phone companies issue phone numbers rather than interlocking phone systems which issue landline numbers, so tracing them becomes more difficult.

Cell Phone Directory

Statistics show that there were more than 225 million cell phones in use in the U.S. in 2018. Compiling a directory for all those numbers – many of which change frequently – would be nearly impossible or outdated as soon as it was published. Additionally, the use of VoIP phone numbers has exploded over the past couple of years.

Google allows you to enter cell phone numbers, but you will be routed to another service that requires a fee or membership in their service. The fees can be a one-time fee or a monthly or yearly membership. Some websites will offer free results.

Invasion of Privacy

Cell phone directories have been a hot topic over the past decade. In 2008, Intelius announced the publication of a cell phone directory containing 90 million phone numbers. The response was not positive. Intelius faced consumer complaints claiming an invasion of privacy in addition to the threat of a lawsuit by a wireless phone company. As a result, Intelius discontinued the service. Therefore, a true cell phone directory with all cell phone listings won’t be created anytime soon, if ever.

How to Handle Phone Scams

iPhone number tracer app

 

Phone scams are prevalent especially since scammers can manufacture phone numbers. Many scammers call from outside the country, making their real numbers suspect. By using Voice over Internet Protocol, scammers can link a new number to a phone, computer, or other electronic device to trick their victims into believing their outrageous claims.

The best way to avoid phone scams is to use a iPhone number tracer app. If the caller has a legitimate reason for calling, he will leave a voicemail. This also applies to telemarketers who circumnavigate the federal Do Not Call list.

Types of Scams

The list of phone scams is seemingly endless with more being invented every day. Fraudsters call regarding anything that might get a response from their victims from Medicare offers to IRS scares to utility company demands for payment. If you are suspicious of a phone call you have received, check it out online before making any financial commitments. Callers demanding payment for taxes, utility bills or mortgage payments are often fraudulent. Call the company directly to make sure the request is valid. Also, be aware that the IRS never calls anyone on the phone; they always send letters in the mail.

Examples:

“Can You Hear Me?” The caller asks you questions to get you to say “yes.” The answer can be altered and used to show agreement to the scam. If you must answer in a positive way, find another word to agree. Following are just a few popular scams:

  • Car Accident. The scammer informs the target that a family member has been in an accident.
  • Kidnapped Relative. The caller demands money for the safe return of a kidnapped family member. The scam is also known as the “Grandparent Scam.”
  • Unpaid Utility Bill. Someone posing as a utility company worker threatens to cut off the utility unless paid immediately.
  • Free offer/lottery winnings. Caller tells the victim that he has won a prize or a free vacation.
  • Government Employee Impersonator. Someone calls claiming to be an employee from the IRS, Social Security office or other agency.
  • Credit Card Services. Caller states he is from your credit card company inquiring about suspicious charges, lower rates or another service. Asks for your social security number or other vital information.
  • Medical Coverage and Benefits. This scam targets seniors more than any other group. Caller scares target into thinking his medical coverage is insufficient.
  • Lower Your Interest Rates. The scammer details how you can save on credit card or loan interest rates.
  • Tech Support. The caller says he is from tech support. He reports a serious computer issue on your system. The “technician” offers to fix the issue for a fee.

Reporting Scammers

Reporting fraudulent calls may seem futile, but it does help to curb the activity. Law enforcement should be notified regarding calls designed to defraud or harm the victim. Take the following steps to report suspicious activity.

Identify the Type of Call You Received

Telemarketer: A telemarketer is anyone that attempts to sell a product or service. To stop the calls, sign up on the Federal Do Not Call Registry. It may not stop the calls, but it will help. Block all unwanted numbers.

Debt Collector: Someone calling to collect a debt should be able to provide you with account information, amount due, contact number, and address. Tell the caller you will return the call at your convenience. If the call is legitimate, contact the collection agency via snail mail, requesting that they stop calling you. Legally, they must obey.

Scammer: Telemarketers must obey the national Do Not Call Registry. This should prevent telemarketers from calling and if you do continue to receive these types of calls you should report them. You only need to sign up one time per phone number.

Report the Call to the Authorities

Once you have determined that the call you received is a scam, report it to the proper authorities. Local law enforcement can warn other citizens since scammers often target specific areas.

  • All Internet-based scams, including romance and tech support scams, should be reported immediately to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, an agency operated by the FBI.
  • Calls from the IRS should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
  • Consumer-related phone fraud should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant. Consumer-related scams include free vacation or prize scams, lottery and sweepstakes scams, energy bill scams, loan and credit card scams, tech support scams, fraudulent debt collectors, medical alert scams, fake charities, and telemarketers in violation of the Do Not Call list.
  • Contact the Federal Communications Commission to report telemarketers and fake debt collectors using ID spoofing.

Block the Number

Aside from not answering calls from unknown numbers, you can block a phone number with the press of a button. Scammers use many phone numbers but placing a block will reduce the number of calls you receive.

Avoiding Identity Theft

Avoiding identity theft is becoming more difficult every day. Thieves target much more than credit cards these days; they may steal social security numbers, driver’s licenses, passports, green cards, visas, addresses, tax returns, phone numbers, and more. It might seem nearly impossible to avoid identity theft altogether, but there are some measures you can take to protect yourself from crime.

Watch out for online scams

Guard Your Phone

Most of us have become thoroughly attached to our phones. So much so that the majority of our personal information is stored inside. While it is certainly convenient, it can also be a nightmare if your phone is lost or stolen. To protect yourself and your information, password protect your phone with a code, fingerprint or facial recognition software. There are a plethora of apps on the market that will help you to block calls on your iPhone and potential thieves. Additionally, store the information in a place an identity thief may not think to look such as a document titled, “family recipes” or “medication schedule.”

Password Protection

Most websites offer password protection, often including several layers of security. Features may include multiple secret questions, pin numbers, or secondary verification through email or text. While those are helpful features, they won’t prevent an identity thief from pulling that information from your computer if it’s not protected as well.

Identity Theft Monitors

As identity theft grows, so do the number of companies that offer protection. Information can be obtained in many ways, including a breach of credit bureaus, credit card or utility companies. You may not know for months if your information has been stolen. While companies typically assist in fixing the problem, it can take years to get things back to normal.

If you’re going to invest in a monitoring company, do your research to find the one that best fits your needs.

Limit Card Use

Using a card instead of cash has its benefits. It eliminates the need to carry cash or checks and, in some cases, it’s much faster to get service. It is also easy to track expenses. However, thieves are always developing new ways to steal your information and use it for gain. Try to limit your card use when shopping in grocery stores and gas stations where it’s easy for someone to peer over your shoulder and get your information. They often employ tools like gadgets that can swipe your info at gas pumps or as you pass by, completely unaware of what is happening. You can also get theft prevention wallets that will block electronic scanning of your cards.

Shred Documents

It might seem simple but shredding your documents is an effective way to deter theft. You might reserve the shredder for financial documents when, in fact, identity theft can occur with less sensitive items such as phone bills, magazine labels, and junk mail. If something has your name and address on it, be safe and shred the item. If you have a large amount of material, use a commercial shredding company or burn it.

Watch Out for These Christmas Phone Scams

At the end of every year, there are a slew of scams that will try to target you both via email and in the form of phone calls. These are the Christmas phone scams that you need to watch out for.

Utility Scams

During the winter months scammers call pretending to be from your local utility companies. Power and heating “representatives” will call you and state that they didn’t receive your last payment and because of this they will be shutting off your power and heat. If you live somewhere cold where it starts getting dark at 4pm you know that this would be a horrible thing.

Many people will start to panic about losing power and will share their credit card or bank information with the caller. Sometimes the scammers will ask that the debt be paid with wire transfer or pre-paid gift cards. This should be an immediate red flag.

If you get a call like this, first hang up, and then call back your power company directly via the phone number that appears on their official website or on a previous bill you’ve received.

Romance Scams

With the holiday season also begin cuffing season! Everybody would like to have a special someone in their life around the holidays. However, you need to keep your wits about you. Watch out for online love interests who haven’t met you in person yet and who are quick to profess their love. These are both red flags.

Avoid sharing personal information with people that you’ve just met via online dating. Though the person might be amazing it’s important not to share too much information with them and never send a person who you don’t know money.

How to Avoid Christmas Scams

The best way to avoid these types of scams is not to get ahead of yourself. The holidays can be stressful, so don’t stress yourself out even more unnecessarily. Use a phone tracer app for the iPhone to identify scams and find information about new people you meet.

Guard your personal information and only share it with the people you know and trust.

Avoid Phone Scams With Caller ID Apps

Today more than ever people are victimized by phone scams. Whether it be the grandparents scam, lottery scams, or the infamous IRS scam, you need to be careful every time you pick up an unknown call. The best way to protect yourself is to install one of the many caller ID apps that exist to your phone.

What Are The Most Common Phone Scams?

There are so many variations of phone scams. You need to be extremely careful whenever you answer a call from a number that’s unfamiliar.

These are some of the most common types of phone scams:

  • Payday loan and federal grant scams
  • Warrant scams
  • IRS scams
  • Free vacation and lottery winner scams

Know The Red Flags

Phone scams can have a lot of variations, but they all have a few things in common. Watch out for these things when answering a call:

  • The caller asks for personal information that seems unnecessary. For example, if the caller claims to be calling from your credit card company they should already have all of your information. They shouldn’t need you to verify any personal information such as your card number, Social Security number, or personal address.
  • The caller claims you’ve won something for free, but you don’t remember signing up for it. This is very common. If you don’t remember signing up for something, then don’t listen to the caller.
  • The caller asks for payment of a fine via wire transfer or prepaid debit or gift card. This is the biggest red flag of all! If someone threatens you and demands that you pay them this way, hang up and block the number. Immediately report it to the proper authorities.

Protect Yourself With A Caller ID App

In order to protect yourself from phone scams, be sure to download an iPhone caller ID app.

An app like this will help you identify the unwanted calls and block them!

How To Stop Telemarketers

Nothing is more annoying than telemarketers calling at all hours. A lot of these calls are often not even live humans, but recordings. If you’re receiving pre-recorded, automated calls on your cell phone these are illegal! We’ll go over the different ways that you can cut down on the amount of nuisance calls you receive, including using a reverse phone number lookup app to filter your calls.

Make Sure Your Number Is On The Official Do Not Call Registry

Though it isn’t the perfect answer to ending robocalls making sure your phone number is in the National Do Not Call Registry is a great start. You can have both your cell phone number and landline number (if you still have one) in the registry.

Once your phone number has been registered telemarketers are not allowed to call you unless you’ve already explicitly agreed to let them call you. Some calls like survey, political, and fundraising are still allowed even if your number is in the registry.

Make sure you don’t fall for any fake offers for Do Not Call Registry’s. There is only one official Do Not Call Registry in the U.S. and it’s run by the FTC.

Don’t Press Numbers When Answering Automated Calls

If you answer a call and a recording starts to play, just hang up. Don’t press any numbers to be removed from the calling list. This is often a ploy to get people to show that the number is active. Scammers will then take the active phone numbers and continue to call them. That’s why it’s best to avoid answering calls from numbers you don’t know and letting them go to voicemail.

Use A Reverse Phone Number Lookup App To Filter Calls

You should download a iPhone reverse cell phone lookup app in order to filter the calls that you receive. Eventually the less you answer junk phone calls the less you’ll receive them. Many apps have real time spam info on phone numbers and some even have automatic spam call blocking protection that you can enable.

How To Identify a Cell Phone Number Owner

Imagine you go out with your friends on the weekend and you start talking to someone you find very attractive. You exchange phone numbers and part ways. The next day you get a text from them asking how the rest of your night was. You’re excited and can’t wait to respond back, there’s only one problem. You aren’t 100% sure what their name is.

What do you do? It turns out that you didn’t save them in your phone by their name. How are you going to find out who this person is?

There is an answer though.

Run a Reverse Phone Lookup

One way to fix this situation is to run iPhone reverse cell number lookups. Running a reverse phone lookup is an easy way to put a name to a phone number. This tool can be a big help in situations where you meet someone but don’t remember their name. You can also use a caller ID app to find out where a call is coming from and whether or not you should trust the phone number.

How to Locate the Name and Address of the Owner of a Cell Phone

Mobile phone carriers do not publish their customer’s phone numbers in a directory in order to shield their privacy. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to find out who owns a cell phone number. Using online resources you can find out who owns a number. Many times people will put their cell phone numbers with their social media profiles.

Look for Reverse Phone Search Websites

Use a search engine, such as Google, to look up reverse phone search sites. You can start by entering the phone number you want information on go through the search results, you will get several results of websites that provide reverse phone search with address and name. When you click the link you’ll be brought to the site and you can run the search on the phone number you want to identify.

If it’s a good reverse phone search site information regarding the name of the carrier as well as the city wherein the owner of the phone number is tracked to, will be shown. To obtain the name and full address of the owner of the mobile phone number, you may be required to make a payment. Once you have made a payment, and have provided your contact info, the detailed information will be mailed to you.

This includes the address and full name of the owner.