At his Krebs on Security site, security researcher Brian Krebs today outlined one of the latest phishing scams he has seen, where an incoming phone call appears to be from a legitimate Apple support line.
As described by Krebs, Jody Westby, CEO of security consulting firm Global Cyber Risk, received an automatic call on her iPhone, and warned her that services containing Apple user IDs had been compromised.
The message asked her to call a 1-866 number, and in the Phone app, the call looked like a call from Apple, with the number listed as 1
Westby contacted Apple support via the official Apple Support page and requested an employee to contact her. She was confident that the call was not legitimate, but when she looked at her recent call list, she saw that real support calls had been lumped into the false call.
The fraudsters told Apple's phone number and the iPhone was unable to distinguish between the real and the false calls, so it appears that Westby had actually been contacted by Apple several times, as it was not. Westby told Krebs that this is a compelling scam that people can fall for.
"I told the Apple representative they should tell people about this and he said it was a good point," said Westby. "This was so compelling I would think many other people would fall for it."
Krebs went ahead and called the number that scammers had asked Westby to call, where an automated system claimed he had reached Apple Support. A minute later a person came on the line and asked about the reason for the conversation. Krebs replied that he was told to call Apple's breach, was put on hold, and the call disconnected without resolution.
A similar report struck Twitter this morning from amazing developer Michael Simmons, saying he received a scam phone call that also spoofed Apple's number.
I just got a scam from "Apple" with its caller ID spoofed! The answering machine was their robodials, so it was cut off, but I heard "So don't do any online activities. Press 1 to talk to an AppleCare agent."
Be careful out there! Https: //t.co/FqeYG8lvd9
– Michael Simmons (@macguitar) January 4, 2019
Krebs believes scammers are aiming to obtain personal and financial details from Apple users for payment, perhaps for technical support services. As he rightly points out, it's both shocking and that Apple devices fail to tell the difference between a legitimate Apple call and someone trying to mock Apple.
With this type of phone-based fraud, it's a good idea to connect the call and get in touch with Apple via the actual support page to avoid being tricked. Apple support doesn't call cold users this way, so these calls are almost always fake, but scammers are skilled social engineers, and people fall for these scams.
Apple has a dedicated support site with information on how to avoid fake support calls, phishing emails, and other scams that malicious people use to extract information from Apple users.