In late 2016, the Department of Justice brought grand jury charges against 56 individuals in India and the United States after it blew the lid off a telefraud scam being run from fake contact centers in India. The con originated back in 2013 and the Justice Department claims that the scheme cost victims more than $300 million over that timeframe.
Here’s how the scam worked.
The con artists located in India used a tool to spoof the telephone numbers of a number of finance-related organizations in the United States. In some cases, agents posed as IRS agents and claimed victims owed back taxes, threatening arrest, jail or asset seizure for failure to comply. Others claimed to offer low-interest financial services.
Some victims made payments under the impression they were getting back into the good graces of the IRS. Others made payments meant to be good-faith down payments to secure their loans. But the money simply went into the pockets of criminals.
From one member of the contact center community to another, we believe it is important for you—and your customers—to be on the lookout for scams like this. While one con has been broken up, there are certain to be more individuals waiting in the wings to try it themselves. So in the interest of serving the contact center community at large, consider the following helpful hints for spotting fake contact center scams.
- Fake contact center agents will typically seek payment before letting you off the phone. If you’re being pressured to make a payment on the spot, it is most likely a scam.
- Many of these agents will also try to get you to make payments using gift cards from Apple or iTunes so that the money is harder to trace. The IRS, unfortunately, will not accept gift cards.
- In order to keep their con going, fake contact center agents are coached to tell their victims that their situation is confidential and cannot be discussed with a third party. A legitimate agent, on the other hand, would have no reason to hide.
- Some agents used fear to extract funds from their victims. Others dangled financial rewards instead. If someone calls you out of the blue with an incredible money-making opportunity, it’s probably too good to be true. Don’t make any commitments on the spot and give yourself time to do your own research and sit down with an accredited financial advisor instead.
- If you’ve been called from a spoofed number, you need to troubleshoot it to figure it out. Tell the caller you will try them back in a few minutes. In the meantime, use another phone to call another number that gets you to the organization. For instance, if the caller uses an IRS number, find an alternate way to contact the IRS to verify that they do, indeed, have a history of working on your case.
At Alvaria, we want to see a world where contact centers are the good guys providing stellar customer support. So we’re asking for your help putting contact center scams to bed. You can learn more about the latest industry news, trends and solutions by checking out Alvaria.