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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Monday, Feb. 10, 2014

This scam call will shut down your phones

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By Clark Howard

ClarkHoward.com


Being on the Do Not Call list won't protect you from the latest rip-off telemarketing schemes taking advantage of you.

The New York Times  reports a single criminal working at one computer can manipulate the nation's phone system to send out 100 million phone calls right from their computer keyboard.

Using synthesized voices, criminals place phone calls masquerading as financial institutions. But their bogus calls are nothing more than extortion attempts. In one example, you're told you owe a debt and if you don't pay, they're going to shut down your employer's phone system.

Most often, the people receiving the calls *don't* owe the debt. It is just a pretext call. Yet if you don't pay, the criminals then put all their effort into tying up the phones at a business or government office in what's called a "denial of service (DOS) attack."

A recent DOS attack on a sheriff's office in an area of Ft. Worth, Texas, tied up the phone lines for an hour and no one could get through. Can you imagine how many people could have been in danger during that time?

So the VoIP technology I love is being turned by criminals into a way to try to extort money.

My advice is never give in to the criminal demands for money. The odds are the employee getting the call doesn't owe a debt, and employers know this is just an extortion attempt.

Some businesses are paying just to get their phone lines back. The good news is there are now software programs available to protect businesses from DOS phone attacks. The New York Times names SecureLogix as one company offering the software.

I can't believe this kind of stuff goes on. But it does. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated.

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