Consumers who receive incoming calls from their financial institutions are vulnerable to phone phishing scams, where dubious characters extract private data under the premise that they are the consumer's financial service provider. Consider the example of a mortgage borrower who receives a call where the caller ID is blocked. The caller could have researched public records to learn the identity of the property owner and the name of the mortgage lender. With such information in hand, the caller pretends to be the lender and begins asking the consumer for personal data as part of security procedures. The caller winds up giving out personal information to an unknown party. JPMorgan Chase & Co. Spokeswoman Amy Bonitatibus acknowledged that Chase asks for customer verification so that information is not shared with other occupants at the home. "But we always introduce ourselves, and we also state the reason for the call," she said. Another scenario involves a call that is only identified as a toll-free telephone on caller ID. This is the case with calls from Bank of America Corp., which also asks for verifying personal data. BofA didn't comment in response to a request for clarification about its procedures. While a toll-free number in the caller ID display might seem reassuring to the borrower, it doesn't take much for a criminal operator to obtain a toll-free number and execute a phone phishing scheme. Although a specific Chase department will show up on caller ID, the New York-based company's name is not necessarily displayed, Bonitatibus said. But Chase never blocks its number from caller ID. At Citigroup Inc., a toll-free number is displayed if the call originates from a dialer, while the direct extension is displayed when the call comes from an office group, a spokesman said in a statement. He noted that the company doesn't block phone numbers from displaying on caller ID. A third possibility would involve a call that is identified on caller ID as being from the consumer's financial institution. When an automated or outbound call is made by Wells Fargo & Co. to a mortgage customer, the caller ID display shows "Wells Fargo Mort," "Wells Fargo Home Mort" or "WF," according to Vickee J. Adams, vice president, external communications, for the San Francisco-based company. In addition, a Wells Fargo inbound number will be displayed. Quicken Loans Inc. spokesman Aaron Emerson said in a statement that the Detroit-based firm doesn't alter the listing of the company on caller ID, and all calls from the company will show the full company name and the main switchboard number (313.373.3000) -- though just the telephone number shows on some wireless devices.
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