Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security: Phone Scams a Concern for Consumers, Voters, and Even Businesses Themselves

(BOSTON, Mass. – Nov. 19, 2007 – Last week reports indicated that John McCain’s campaign asked the New Hampshire attorney general to explore an alleged phone call scam related to the presidential primary there. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, said phone scammers target many demographics. According to Siciliano, consumers, banks, and others must beware of phone scams designed to extract sensitive financial information from those called or in other ways to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

“The phone is a form of communication fraught with susceptibilities to fraud and other less-than-scrupulous activities,” said Siciliano. “Consumers, voters, and even entire institutions and organizations must take steps to minimize their risk of getting duped by phone scammers.”

CEO of and a member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, Siciliano leads Fortune 500 companies and their clients in workshops that explore consumer education solutions for security issues. An experienced identity theft speaker and author of “The Safety Minute: 01,” he has discussed data security and consumer protection on CNBC, on NBC’s “Today Show,” FOX News, and elsewhere.

On Nov. 16, the Associated Press reported that campaign officials for John McCain, the Republican Senator from Arizona running for president, had asked the New Hampshire attorney general to investigate what the article described as phone calls to voters from those who “[were pretending] to be polls but raise[d] questions about rival candidate Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith — and [were making] favorable statements about McCain.” The report went on to attribute these alleged calls (known as “push polling”) to a professional phone bank based in Utah.

“Never assume a supposedly official phone call indeed is,” said Siciliano. “No matter whom or what the caller professes to represent, the whole thing could be illegitimate.”

Siciliano said misleading phone calls can be a tool for fraudsters. Following are two of many phone scams that have taken place in November alone:

• On Nov 8, the Joliet, Ill.-based Herald News reported that residents in an area the publication covers had contacted police about phone calls that, evidently, were made by inmates of a nearby prison. The perpetrators allegedly encouraged those they called to dial a phone number that began with star (*) 72, the code that engages most phones’ call-forwarding feature. This gained the scammers access to the victims’ phones to make calls by proxy, incurring no charges themselves.

• “KTVZ News Channel 21” reported on Nov. 9 that phone scammers operating out of Iowa with an 888-number and purporting to be representatives of, alternately, Bank of the Cascades or U.S. Bank had called “hundreds if not thousands of Central Oregonians” in attempts to obtain the targets’ sensitive financial information. The scam, according to the report, prompted many to alert law enforcement authorities and the banks involved.

“Anyone who suspects that he or she has been the target of a phone scammer must watch for the possible consequences,” said Siciliano. “These include identity theft and fraud, not to mention the potential of being stalked. Report any strange phone activity to the authorities.”

Readers may view YouTube video below of Siciliano on “FOX News,” explaining how the ubiquity of Social Security numbers as universal identifiers helps thieves. Those wishing to learn how to protect themselves against identity theft may view video of Siciliano at VideoJug.


Identity theft affects us all. Robert Siciliano, CEO of and member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, makes it his mission to provide consumer education solutions on identity theft to Fortune 500 companies and their clients.

A leader of personal safety and security seminars nationwide, Siciliano has been featured on “The Today Show,” CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, “FOX News,” “The Suze Orman Show,” “The Montel Williams Show,” “Maury Povich,” “Sally Jesse Raphael,” “The Howard Stern Show,” and “Inside Edition.” The Privacy Learning Institute features him on its Website. Numerous magazines, print news outlets, and wire services have turned to him, as well, for expert commentary on personal security and identity theft. These include Forbes, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, United Press International, Reuters, and others.

Visit Siciliano’s Web site, blog, and YouTube page.

The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:

Robert Siciliano, Personal Security Expert
CEO of
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)

The media may also contact:

Brent W. Skinner
President & CEO of STETrevisions
PHONE: 617-875-4859
FAX: 866-663-6557