The Art of the Steal: Lessons From a Hired Scammer

By Marcus Chan - 2012-03-07T01:44:23Z

Photograph by Fuse

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Dialing for Dollars

The scam: Most of us have learned to ignore e-mails that are supposedly from our banks, asking us to click on a link and log in to our account to resolve some issue. How good are you at ignoring phone calls or voicemails trying to pull the same phishing scam?

Stickley targeted 10 people and told them there was a problem with their account. He was able to get personal information such as their name, home address and Social Security number out of half of them.

The lesson: If you get a voicemail purporting to be from your financial institution, don't call the number left on the message. Instead, call the number on the back of your bank card or account statement. Then ask if the message is legitimate.

If the caller reaches you instead of your voicemail, take the same approach. Politely hang up and call back, using a phone number you trust. You could also ask them questions to which they should have answers, such as your home address.