You probably aren’t surprised anymore when you figure out that a customer service representative you’re talking to is actually half-way across the world somewhere in a call center.
But what may surprise you is that there are call centers that actually specialize in helping identity thieves carry out scams and various types of cyber fraud.
How these call centers work
A recent report from KrebsOnSecurity reveals how some of these call centers operate and the types of services they provide.
The basic idea is to help thieves put stolen information to use. For example, if a thief steals someone’s credit number but can’t use it to make an online purchase until they verify over the phone that they are the account holder, these call centers provide a way for them to do that.
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Even with all the necessary information, if a thief is a man who doesn’t speak English, he probably can’t convince an American credit card company that’s the account holder. But for $10, he can hire someone from a call center to make the call for him. And voila, he can then go to town and buy whatever he wants using a stolen credit card.
The services offered by these cyber crime call centers can vary, but one popular specialty is helping fraudsters exploit dating website scams.
According to Krebs, these call centers offer male and female callers in your choice of seven different languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Polish. Calls made in English are about $10, while calls in any other language are about $12.
So while scammers typically aren’t too picky in terms of whose information they steal, they now have a way of pretty much guaranteeing that they’ll be able to use it. It also allows them to target pretty much anyone in an online dating scam. Plus, these services aren’t hard to find — in fact, they even advertise their ability to help scammers scam people. Thieves can even pay a fee to expedite the service they’re looking for.
They even do the thieves an extra solid by providing online tracking information for services they’ve requested. Think: Has my scam call been made to the credit card company yet? Call is in progress, you should be able to use the stolen card soon.
One example Krebs gave was someone who used a stolen American Express card number to buy a $250 remote control car. All the thief had to do was fill in all the necessary information associated with the account — card number, name, address, shipping address — and then the call was made and the order processed.
How to protect yourself
So as scammers continue to evolve and develop more advanced schemes, entire sub-industries of the fraud industry are now popping up to support them. This is why now more than ever, it’s so important to track your financial information and accounts — in order to spot any potential fraudulent activity as soon as possible.
To help protect yourself against identity theft — and limit the potential damage — check out Clark’s identity theft guide.