AI voice technology has opened up countless possibilities in this era dominated by technological advancements. From virtual assistants to voice-activated appliances that simplify our lives, AI voice technology has become an integral part of our existence. However, as with any innovation, this progress has a dark side. AI voice scams have emerged as a significant threat, posing serious dangers to our privacy and security. In this article, we’ll talk more about the world of AI voice scams, providing examples of their deceitful tactics and outlining ways to protect your family from falling victim to these malicious schemes, including the unsettling ability of AI to mimic the voice of a loved one in distress.
Understanding AI Voice Technology Scams
AI voice scams, or voice phishing or vishing, are deceptive practices in which cybercriminals use AI-generated voices to impersonate trusted entities and manipulate individuals into revealing personal and sensitive information or sending funds. These scams exploit the human tendency to trust the authenticity of voice communications, making them particularly insidious. They take on various forms and can be challenging to detect, rendering many vulnerable to their deceitful tactics.
Three Examples of AI Voice Scams
1 Emotionally Manipulative AI Voice Clone Scams
AI technology has advanced to the point where it can imitate the voice of a loved one in distress. In these scams, cybercriminals use AI-generated voices to impersonate family members or close friends, claiming to need financial help or urgent medical assistance. Scammers sometimes use AI technology to clone voices, pretending to be a kidnapped loved one. Panicked relatives are then duped into paying a ransom. The emotional distress caused by these scams can be particularly devastating.
2 Financial AI Voice Scams
Scammers can use software to recreate the voice of a trusted person. This might include a credit union or bank representative. Scammers may call unsuspecting individuals to report fraudulent activity on their accounts. In a panic, victims are coerced into revealing their financial details, social security numbers, or other sensitive information.
3 Romance AI Voice Scams
Previously, in romance scams, a fraudster used email or messaging to connect with potential victims. Criminals now use AI-generated voices to create fake online personas, gaining the trust of their victims. A male scammer could now fake the voice of a young woman in an attempt to steal from someone. Once a victim is on the hook, they eventually ask for financial assistance, often claiming to be in a dire situation and manipulating victims into sending money.
Why AI Voice Scams Are Dangerous
AI voice scams pose a severe threat to individuals and their families for several reasons:
- Loss of Privacy: Falling victim to these scams can result in the compromise of sensitive personal information, potentially leading to identity theft, fraud, or harassment.
- Financial Loss: Scammers often trick victims into giving away their financial information or making ransom or unauthorized payments, resulting in substantial financial losses.
- Emotional Distress: The psychological impact of being scammed can be profound, causing emotional distress, anxiety, and a sense of violation.
Protecting Your Family from AI Voice Scams
Protecting your family from the dark side of AI voice technology is essential. Here are some strategies to help safeguard your loved ones from voice scams:
- Educate Your Family: Knowledge is your first line of defense. Make sure your family members are aware of the existence of AI voice scams and the tactics used by scammers. Stress the importance of skepticism when receiving unexpected calls or messages.
- Develop a family “code word”: Experts recommend families develop a code word that is kept private to determine if a caller is really who they say. Another option is to ask a question that only you and your loved one would know the answer to.
- Keep social media accounts private: Information that is easy to access can be used by scammers using AI voice technology to know more facts about a person or family. Scammers may look for an audio clip of a person on social media or elsewhere online. They only need a few seconds to develop a realistic clone of a voice.
- Take Advantage of Call Blocking Tools: The Federal Communications Commission offers a wealth of call-blocking resources for both mobile and landlines.
- Verify the Caller’s Identity: When someone contacts you or a family member asking for personal or financial information, always verify their identity. Ask for a callback number, then look up the official contact information of the organization in question and reach out directly to confirm the request. Remember, Benchmark FCU will never reach out proactively to request a member’s personal or financial information.
- Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA on financial and email accounts to add an extra layer of security. This helps prevent unauthorized access even if a scammer gains access to your credentials.
- Don’t Share Sensitive Information: Remind your family members only to share personal or financial information over the phone if they are certain of the caller’s identity. Legitimate organizations will not ask for this information over the phone.
- Report Suspicious Activity: If you or a family member encounters a suspicious call, report it to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the local police.
- Secure Home Assistants: If you use AI home assistants like Alexa or Google Home, secure them with strong, unique passwords. Also, disable voice purchasing and limit the information these devices can access.
Stay Informed about AI Voice Technology Scams
While AI voice technology has brought numerous benefits to our lives, it also presents new challenges in the form of voice scams, including the distressing ability to mimic the voices of loved ones. Protecting your family from these threats requires vigilance, education, and a healthy dose of skepticism. By taking proactive steps and staying informed, you can ensure your loved ones remain safe and sound in the digital age.
Familiarize yourself with Benchmark FCU’s “Identity Theft Procedures.”
Read more helpful content like this in our blog “Understanding Brushing Scams: USPS Issues a Warning.”