This holiday season, thieves may be after more than just gifts or money. They may also be after access to your mobile phone account.
Criminals are using a technique called caller ID spoofing to falsify the number and name that appear on a person's caller ID so that it appears as if the calls are coming from another source, like a well-known company.
These criminals then use another tactic called social engineering to trick customers into sharing personal information over the phone, allowing them to gain access to people's mobile phone accounts. The fraudsters may ask for personal verifications questions, including Social Security numbers, passwords, addresses and last names.
Officials with AT&T say some of their customers recently have been victims of this scam.
Once the criminals have access to the customers' wireless accounts, they can transfer wireless service from a customer's SIM card to a device in their possession.
While some AT&T customers have been affected, officials with the company said all wireless customers, regardless of their provider, should be aware of this scam.
Here are some tips from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and AT&T on how to avoid these scams:
• Never give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Identity thieves are clever. They often pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies, creditors, or government agencies to get people to reveal their account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords and other identifying information.
• If you get a call from a company or government agency seeking personal information, don't provide it. Instead, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to find out if the entity that supposedly called you actually needs the requested information from you.
• More information on Caller ID spoofing and fraud is available on the FCC website.
Victims of social engineering scams can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
1720 Valley View Drive