Payday loan scammers are crippling some US emergency service telephone lines in their bid to pester victims into paying fraudulent debt claims, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Centre, IC3.
Payday loan scams have been a problem in the US since at least 2010, however the attacks on emergency services telephone lines has escalated the threat to a public safety issue.
The Telephony denial of service (TDOS) attacks are one of the scammers’ new methods of coercion, which are aimed at all victims who in some cases happen to be employees of emergency services, IC3 warned on Tuesday.
IC3 did not disclose which emergency services had been hit, but said the fraudsters were now a “threat to emergency services across the nation”, which had already prevented some from receiving and responding to legitimate emergency calls.
Pay day loan companies in the US have been criticised for charging extraordinarily high annual interest rates for small loans to cash-strapped workers, while loan scammers have been known to use aggressive tactics to coerce victims into paying, ranging from threats of physical violence to arrest.
The FBI in 2010 reported some fraudsters began contacting victims, their friends and employers after the victim had applied for an online loan.
The use of TDOS attacks on employers has been coupled with a new addition to the law enforcement threat, with loan scammers now also spoofing police phone numbers when calling a victim and claiming there is an arrest warrant out for the victim, according to the IC3.
To enhance the appearance of a real threat and encourage police to actually contact the victim, the attacker then spoofs the victim’s phone number and places harassing calls to local police.