Targeted robocall reaches thousands

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you received a call recently from either your bank or credit card company claiming they need to confirm your social security number, you are not alone.

Federal data shows scams, especially robocalls, targeting social security numbers were one of the most common in 2019.

A Knoxville woman discovered the call she received was sent to more than 100,000 people. She turned to an app called RoboKiller to find that information, but it was the call itself that bothered her.

If you have ever had your identity stolen, it’s bad enough that you were targeted. What’s worse is that the impact of identity theft can last for months resolving financial and credit problems associated with it.

When a robocall was made to a Knoxville woman recently, she called the number back and found out some interesting information.

Sarah Kibble says she is careful with her finances today after having her identity stolen more than a year ago. When she shops, Sarah uses only her debit card or pays cash.

But a robocall recently piqued her curiosity.

“Thank you for calling Capital One about your WalMart credit card. Please say or enter your 16-digit card number….Say or enter your social security number,” the male voice says on the phone.

That request for her social security number concerned Sarah. So, she called the number back.

“In this case I was trying to verify and to make sure, number one, to see if was legit. If it was make my identity wasn’t stolen like it was a year ago,” she said. “So for them to say there was a problem with my account was very concerning to me.”

In September of 2019, Capital One and Walmart announced they were kicking off a new partnership with the release of two credit cards that promised big rewards for Walmart customers.

Kibble says the person claiming to be with Capital One didn’t give up.

“She was arguing with me and insisted that I give her my social security number so she could make sure that my identity wasn’t stolen. I told her there was no way I was going to give her my social security number. So this is a scam that people might actually believe and the way this is set up it sounds really legitimate,” Kibble said.

There is an App called RoboKiller.

For a small fee, it blocks calls ringing on your phone. Plus, you can also check any number. That’s what Sarah did. The result was astounding.

“I did a search on RoboKiller for that particular number,” she said. “The number they told me to call back, the number that we heard. The last call was made 32 seconds ago and the number of calls was 172,018 calls.”

Even though Kibble does not hold a Capital One card, she called their fraud division.

“First, they verified that was not one of their phone numbers,” she said. “They told me, first and foremost, they would never ask for the full social security number and verification.”

The Federal Trade Commission wants you to contact the department if you get unwanted calls.

The FTC says if you get robocalls, don’t press buttons to request to speak to someone. Instead, hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission at its National Do Not Call Registry website or 1-888-382-1222.

Kibble says she figures she’s one of the lucky ones who didn’t fall for the scam. But she knows others may: “I want people to know. This number is not Capital One. It doesn’t have anything to do with Capital One.”

Because there are so many kinds of scams, the FTC has another website – the FTCcomplaintassistant.gov

On that site, you can file complaints about rip-off and imposter scams.

If you get an “unwanted” telemarketing call, let the commission know.

The FTC is also interested in phony government grant offers, in which you have to pay a fee which indicates a scam.

MORE | WATE 6 On Your Side Investigations

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