By Sabina Mollot
The latest phone scam to irritate New Yorkers struck this past week, with numerous residents of Stuyvesant Town reporting they were called by someone claiming to be from Apple.
Susan Steinberg, president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, said she received at least six of those calls on Sunday, and while she wasn’t fooled, “It’s enough to make you want to pull the phone out of the wall,” she said.
A bunch of neighbors also reported receiving the same on the association’s Facebook page over the weekend.
Like with similar scams in which the caller pretends to be from the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Treasury and Microsoft, recipients receive a call from an automated voice, instructing them to call back.
In this case, callers are informed that their iCloud account has been hacked and their data is in jeopardy. Steinberg first got called in the morning, getting a barrage of followup calls throughout the day.
“As soon as I got it, I went on the internet and put in a search for ‘iCloud hacking’ and sure enough that said it’s a fraud,” said Steinberg. “I said, ‘I’m not calling back. Forget it.’”
Meanwhile, though the scammers may currently be targeting local phone numbers, the scam itself isn’t new. The Better Business Bureau posted about the alarming trend last August, which was being reported across the country as well as in Canada. Some intended victims said they were called as often as ten times a day.
According to the BBB, the robocall will claim to be from Apple support and this may even be reflected in the recipient’s caller ID. But, the agency warned, the number is spoofed. The caller will instruct a victim to remain on the line to speak with a support “technician” who will offer to fix his or her account. But first, the recipient will be told, the technician will need to access the individual’s computer. Naturally, the BBB advises against doing this, since it could allow a scammer to install malware that records passwords or hunts for personal information stored on the computer.
Apple has also warned customers about the scam on its support page.
“Scammers spoof phone numbers and use flattery and threats to pressure you into giving them information, money, and even iTunes gift cards,” the company said. “Always verify the caller’s identity before you provide any personal information. If you get an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Apple, hang up and contact us directly.”