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Hackers Target Users Of Google Maps With Bank Phone Scam

By December 10, 2018June 2nd, 2022Cybersecurity

Google relies on crowd sourcing to help keep its maps up to date.  There’s no other approach that even comes close to being feasible.  Sure, Google has employees on the job, roving the nation’s highways, byways, and back streets. Even if the company employed ten times the number they’re currently using, their maps wouldn’t be nearly as accurate as they’ve become via crowd sourcing.

Unfortunately, there’s a flaw in the system, and that flaw has been exploited in recent months by clever scammers.

Here’s how it works:  One of the things users can do is log in and edit maps, including the addresses and phone numbers associated with businesses like, say…banks. The scammers will change the phone number of a bank as it appears on maps, using a number that they control, with a smooth-talking con artist on the other end of the line.

If a user is browsing maps looking for resources (restaurants, banks, etc.) which happens frequently when people are traveling, they’ll see the number helpfully listed on the map entry and call. They’ll be thinking they’re talking to a bank representative, who will, over the course of the conversation, ask them for their name, address, phone number, PIN, bank account number, etc.

It all sounds very legitimate and straightforward, except of course that bank employees don’t actually ask for your PIN or account number.

Of course, once the scammer has what they need, the call will be disconnected in the process of “transferring” the caller to some other department, and the damage is done.

Google does mention the fact that banks and other legitimate services tend to keep requests for personal information to an absolute minimum, and that when contacting any business, it’s always best to get their contact information straight from the company’s website, rather than relying on the information found on maps, but sadly, that message isn’t getting through in at least some cases.

Word to the wise, don’t rely on the contact information you see on Google Maps.  Go straight to the source.

Jason Manteiga

Jason J. Manteiga, Vice President of Olmec Systems, has been part of the company for over the past 20 years. He believes that having a great work environment and supportive team, is the ultimate key to success. Since being in the IT realm for over 25 years, Jason, along with Olmec Systems, has been on the Inc. 5000 “List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” and Channel Futures MSP 501 “Top Managed Service Providers in North America,” along with other awards and nominations. Jason earned his Bachelor Degree in Information Systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also holds certifications in Microsoft MCSE, VMWare VCP, and Cisco CCNA. In his spare time, Jason is a contributor for The Center for Social & Legal Research (Privacy Exchange) and a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. His hobbies include cycling and kayaking. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife, two daughters and son.