Fake Apple Support Calls About Defective Apple Products or Security Issues Continue

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Fraudulent and deceptive calls warning people that their Apple products are defective and need to be replaced are still being received by area residents this week. Arlington Heights police warned residents on their official Facebook and Twitter accounts Friday, January 4, 2019 that Arlington Heights residents had reported receiving the fake calls about issues with their Apple products. These scam calls have been reported nationwide at least as early as 2018.

The calls are being received seven days per week, and some residents have reported receiving four or more of the fake calls in a day from different phone numbers appearing on Caller ID. The fake calls may use a high-quality automated voice that uses official-sounding text-to-voice technology to falsely report to the phone fraud victim that an Apple product is defective or has a security issue that needs repair or replacement. The fraudulent campaign is widespread, and many victims are not even Apple customers. Therefore, the scammers likely don’t have any initial information about Apple customers. They are just blindly calling random numbers for the chance to snag a victim.

The scammers are reported to be using Caller ID spoofing techniques to make the calls appear to be coming from Apple store telephone numbers, but they are fake and are originating from scammers.

Victims, who are deceived and call the number that was suggested by the automated scam call, are likely to hear real people answer. The damage can occur with interaction with the live scammers, who might deceive a customer into giving up an Apple ID and password, credit card number or Apple iTunes gift card information, etc.

Police are warning residents to be vigilant, and suggest they follow Apple’s guidelines to protect themselves from phone and email scams. The live scammers may use flattery or threats to pressure victims into giving them Apple account information, money, and Apple iTunes gift cards.

On a security information page from Apple, the technology company advises customers to always verify the caller’s identity before providing any personal information, but it is better to hang up and initiate a call to Apple using their official telephone numbers if there is concern that there is a problem with an Apple product or account. Apple also recommends in an official security support page that upon receiving an unsolicited call from a scammer claiming to be from Apple, that customers should hang up and contact Apple directly. Apple provides these two sentences about verification in the document, but the only way that customers can be 100 percent certain that they are talking to Apple is to follow the advice of the second sentence, and call Apple themselves using phone numbers on product literature or Apple’s official website.

Apple doesn’t call customers about Apple products, unless there was an immediate previous interaction that involved the Apple customer approving the receipt of a call from an Apple employee.

General Apple Security Tips:

• Never sharing an Apple ID password or temporary verification code.

• Apple recommends customers with multiple devices use two-step authentication for signing in to an Apple account. [Note from Cardinal News: It’s important that you DON’T activate two-step authentication if you don’t have multiple devices logged into your Apple account (e.g, multiple Apple iPhones or an iPhone and a Mac logged into the same iCloud account). Activation of two-step authentication initiates a process that affects all future efforts to make changes to an Apple account. When an Apple customer wants to make a change to an account, the customer receives an authorization approval request on their other registered device(s). Upon confirmation of the request from one of their other devices, customers receive a code on the other device(s) that must be entered on the device that is being used to make a change to the Apple account. If a customer doesn’t have a second device, they won’t be able to receive an authentication code, and they won’t be able make changes to their iCloud account. There’s a long way around this to fix this situation if someone activates two-step authentication without owning a second device.]

• Be suspicious of callers using flattery or threats to get access to your information, request money or request gift cards.

• Report any suspicious calls or emails right away. This is not usually necessary to protect your own account, but is helpful so that the community knows that a particular scam is active, or so that the community might be aware of a new type of scam, or that the information may be helpful for investigation.

Apple’s full guidelines to protect against fraud:
Avoid phishing emails, fake ‘virus’ alerts, phony support calls, and other scams

Beware that even Apple’s security document does not offer the best, comprehensive information regarding security of Apple iPhones on all topics.

Here is an example …

Apple says in the document, “When you browse the web, you might see a pop-up ad or a page warning you about a problem with your device. It might even look like the alert is coming from macOS or iOS. It isn’t. These alerts are pop-ups, designed to trick you into calling a phony support number or buying an app that claims to fix the issue. Don’t call the number. Simply navigate away from that page, or close the window or tab, and continue browsing.”

The troublesome advice from Apple is this: “Simply navigate away from that page, or close the window or tab, and continue browsing.”

Actually if your Apple iPhone is getting this type of pop-up, your iPhone is likely affected by malware that may be stored in the cache of your iOS Safari browser. Keep in mind that a malicious popup could tell you to call a fake Apple support site to “fix” your iPhone (just like the fake phone calls described above). The popup is likely to recur. You may have picked up the malware while visiting a website. The popup doesn’t necessarily rear its ugly head on the website that delivered the malware. The popup might show up while you’re visiting a subsequent innocent website — and it might continuously pop up on a variety of innocent websites. The pop up or variants may keep appearing until you clear the cache to your browser. It’s dishonest that Apple states in their security document … “SIMPLY [emphasis added] navigate away from that page” … sometimes that works, but frequently it doesn’t work until you clear the cache while the iPhone is in Airplane mode.

The best way to clear this type of malware in the cache is to use the following steps (read all before following task steps) …

1) Put your iPhone in Airplane Mode so that it is not able to interact with your home Wi-Fi router or a cell tower. Go to Settings: Turn Airplane Mode on (slide right).

2) Clear the cache by going to … Settings: Scroll down and touch Safari: Scroll down and touch “Clear History and Website Data” [WARNING: This will clear all your passwords, so you won’t have access to your Facebook account, Google accounts, and Twitter accounts, etc. For example, if you’re traveling, you might want to wait until you have access to your passwords and just tolerate the recurring popups by avoiding and ignoring the popups with the Apple “simple” method until you have your passwords.]

3) Turn Airplane Mode back off. Go to Settings: Airplane Mode off (slide left). You’re phone will re-connect with a cell tower and/or Wi-Fi.

4) Re-enter passwords and log in to accounts.

Also, be cautious in any forum or support boards that you might use for advice. There is often helpful advice on forums, but sometimes scammers lurk in support forums and offer advice, and then offer fake toll free support numbers to snag unsuspecting victims. They may deceptively claim the phone numbers will deliver unsuspecting victims to official support call centers for Apple or Facebook, etc. But it might be the same fake call centers that victims are referred to from the scammer phone calls.

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