New technology has led to an onslaught of Internet-inspired fraud tactics that try to use telephone calls to dupe millions of people or to overwhelm switchboards for essential public services, causing deep concern among law enforcement and other groups.
People, businesses, and government agencies across the country are combating the new schemes, in which scammers use the Internet to send a disabling number of calls at the same time. Many of the attacks bombard individuals with automated requests for personal data, in a variation of their e-mail-scam cousins. Others are more vicious, flooding entire phone systems when demands are not met, similar to some attacks against websites.
“You can blast out 100 million calls from the comfort of your keyboard,” said Kati Daffan, a lawyer at the Federal Trade Commission.
In October, the Department of Homeland Security advised federal agencies, local governments, and other organizations to be prepared for so-called denial of service attacks, which flood phone systems with calls, making them unusable. The warning came after attacks against a sheriff’s office in the South and another against a Coast Guard cutter. The department said there had been over 200 such attacks identified against public sector groups.
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