Scams Are Evolving and so Must We

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A photo illustration of a yellow notepad with the word “scam” written in red bubble letters and several partially folded hundred dollar bills.

Asher Zumwalt, Senior Staff Writer

Most scams are designed to tempt the victim with a false good, meaning a promise of compensation or free stuff. Sometimes in other ways, like giving you a fake link to steal your information. However sometimes, scams are comprised to play at one of the easiest emotions to manipulate: fear.

According to NPR, “The Federal Trade Commission¬†issued a consumer alert this week urging people to be vigilant for calls using voice clones generated by artificial intelligence.”

ABC News and other outlets reported about a woman who received a phone call while her daughter was away on a trip, the caller told her they had kidnapped her daughter and were demanding a large ransom for her return. The woman heard her daughter cry for help in the background and. What made this so dangerous though, was that her daughter had not actually been kidnapped. Her daughter was safe and sound on her trip. The ‘kidnapper’ had used AI to recreate her voice saying or making the desired sounds that would make the scam work.

This is a new thing for humanity. We’ve seen plenty of stuff like this in media, portraying technology where in dampens our ability to tell reality from an illusion. But to see so clearly, the point where mothers aren’t able to differentiate an AI reconstruction her daughter’s voice from their own (albeit over the phone) is scary. As the world advances, so do scams, and in turn the average individuals have to do the same.

There are a few things you can do to stay protected from new dangers and frauds.

  • When a call comes in from someone claiming to be a bank, credit card company, or relative, tell them you will call them back. Call them directly from your phone instead of giving information to the incoming call.
  • Try to avoid calls from unknown or hidden numbers. Who knows what they want and almost always aren’t worth your time. Also, if it’s someone real, who you know, they’ll text you.
  • Keep your social media profiles private. It is suspected that even if it was not true in this case, having public videos online of your voice can allow AI to mimic it. Private social media keeps you safer.
  • Never click a link coming from an unknown source. Even just opening links can cause a lot of damage. There are many ways these come across. Scammers will mimic companies saying they need your username and password, saying they need you to click here to fix a problem, or that you won a sweep stake you didn’t enter and to collect your prize. Don’t click the link.
  • Know what’s going around. New scams come up, but most are variations on a theme or are the same ones used by many people. Know what the popular scams are, and you’ll be much better equipped to avoid them.
  • Make sure that no one you know or love is falling victim to these. Especially the older generation, who can struggle with technology and in their innocence can make mistakes.