In general, I like technology that makes it easier for me to communicate. But in the AI age, convenience can lead to deception — and trouble.
These days, most cyberscams are designed to steal personal financial information or cash. Stealing identifying information such as social security or bank account numbers is called “identity theft.”
According to a new report by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), “80% of identity theft victims are due to scams, and thieves are becoming more sophisticated in their quests to steal personal identifying information (PII) from victims with 61% of them being conducted through AI voice.”
How can you protect yourself? This is what the ITRC recommends:
Be cautious of unsolicited offers, requests, and calls. Be careful when receiving unsolicited calls or messages that offer tempting deals or requests for sensitive information. If an offer appears too good to be true, it is likely a scam.
Always verify identities. Families concerned about AI voice scams, specifically ones requesting ransom for a supposed kidnapping, can establish a “safe word” that only family members would know to use in an emergency situation. Before panicking, ask for the safe word. Additionally, refute the scammer’s identity with a challenge question that they would not know the answer to unless they were that person.
Do not share verification codes and set up two-factor authentication. Never disclose your Google Voice verification code, or any other authentication code, to anyone if you did not contact them first, regardless of the reason or urgency presented. Additionally, enable two-factor authentication using an authenticator app instead of relying on SMS. This approach significantly boosts security because scammers cannot bypass your two-factor authentication even if they associate your phone number with a Google Voice or other account.
Protect your contact information. Set social media profiles to private and ensure you have removed contact information from social media, data websites, contact forms, and anywhere else you may have added your number over the years. Scammers only need a short amount of audio to replicate a voice with this technology. They can easily use social media videos or voicemail recordings to do this.
Monitor your credit and identity. Regularly monitor your credit reports, bank statements, and other financial accounts for possible suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized transactions or accounts immediately to the respective financial institutions. If suspicious activity occurs within your accounts, there is a good chance that other scammers have also targeted you.
Bottom line: Verify who you’re dealing with unless they are a trusted contact. “Before sharing personal information or proceeding further, verify the identity of the individual or organization requesting it. This can be done by independently contacting them through official channels or confirming their legitimacy through trusted sources.”