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By Ashleigh, K-Staff
Hey Siri, will they never stop inventing newer, trickier scams to steal our identities and information?
No, probably not. Because it works! We’ve written about check scams, ATM scams, grandparent scams, love scams, e-mail and text phishing, and more. And the more trust you have in the purported sender, the easier it is for a thief to victimize you. When you receive an e-mail from a company you’ve never heard of, you’re naturally skeptical. But, get a call or an e-mail from Apple on your iPhone alerting you that your Apple ID is compromised—that’s a different story.
Tim Cook, The CEO of Apple, announced early in 2019 that there were currently 1.4 billion active Apple devices. Each of those devices requires a unique Apple ID to access features such as the App Store, iTunes, and more. And even on non-Apple tech, an Apple ID may be required to use iTunes and other proprietary Apple apps and software. That’s a deep pool to fish in, and thieves are increasingly setting the bait by targeting the owners of the sleek Apple-emblazoned devices and apps. If you own one of these devices, you need to be aware of a popular phishing tactic in 2020—the Apple ID scam.
Apple has set the bar high when it comes to customer service and support, and the integrated nature of Apple products makes their owners feel as if they’re more than customers—they’re family, connected by common technology and language. So when a phone call comes through, “Apple, Inc.” on the caller ID screen, we pick up. And we listen to the voice telling us that our Apple ID has been compromised and to not use our device until we call this number. And we may even call back—many do! The “Apple Support” representative will ask the victim to confirm their Apple ID and password and may even request additional information or payment to release the ID.
This scam really isn’t new, having been floating around for a few years in different forms. E-mail phishing (e-mails that are spoofed to appear as legitimate communication from a company) has been a popular tactic. But the phone calls, with a seemingly real phone number identification, are scary in their level of accuracy. The scammed calls appear to come from Apple , Inc., show the real support number and a real address. The screenshot below shows just how legitimate these calls can appear.
Source: Krebs On Security
So, fellow Apple owner, how can we keep ourselves safe? Here are some things to remember and look out for.
SUPPORT WON’T CONTACT YOU
The biggest sign that a call is fake? You didn’t request it. When was the last time a piece of tech wasn’t working right, you needed support, and THEY called YOU. It just doesn’t happen. If you have issues with your devices or logins, you have many options for reaching out to Apple yourself. You can absolutely log in to Apple Support and request a call, and that request will generate a case number. When the call comes, that case number will be provided at the very beginning of the call.
PASSWORDS ARE PRIVATE
No real support call will involve you turning over a password. Apple Support has no ability to set your passwords and has no reason for ever requesting that information in a phone call. If you’re on a call—especially if you didn’t initiate the call—and the person on the other end of that call requests a password, hang up immediately.
DON’T TRUST THE CALLER ID
It’s easy to spoof numbers to a high degree of accuracy. Pay attention to the call itself and the events leading up to it. If you didn’t request a call and had no other indication of a problem, the call is suspicious. Hang up and call Apple Support yourself.
DON’T PAY TO PLAY
It’s a hallmark of a scam call or e-mail—the urgent request for money to resolve an issue. Any issue that Apple Support can help with will not require you to make a payment, transfer, purchase of gift cards, or any other monetary reimbursement over the phone. If a request doesn’t feel right, hang up and call back by dialing the official Apple Support number or utilizing chat services from official Apple websites.
Large, trusted companies aren’t immune from phishing attacks—quite the opposite! Be skeptical and if you’re in doubt, hang up the phone or delete the e-mail and reach out to the company yourself.