How To Avoid AI Voice Impersonation and Similar Scams

Originally published at: How To Avoid AI Voice Impersonation and Similar Scams - TidBITS

The “grandparent scam” goes back almost 20 years, but it and similar frauds are gaining new traction through AI voice impersonation. Protect your family, friends, and colleagues with advance planning.

1 Like

I’ve been sending a URL for those seniors I know or supported in the past to the AARP. Which has some good info for “seniors/retirees” about the current scams and to report.

There was a recent SFC article about a couple whose son was the reported called in an accident, and the mother was so upset and just fell for it all. Adrenaline and worry are powerful, as the mother clearly was so upset not to “just call her son”.
Thanks Glenn!

1 Like

If you get a cal from a “relative” under suspicious conditions like this, ask a few questions that a third-party will always get wrong.

For example:

Q: I can’t deal with this. I’m going to let your brother Fred talk with you.

Correct answer: WTF? I don’t have a brother.

Or maybe:

Q: Have you called your boyfriend Jim?

Correct answer: Who? You know I’m into girls.

or maybe:

Q: Tell me about our trip to Dineyland

Correct answer: We never went to Disneyland.

I’m sure everybody can think of questions along these lines, where anyone impersonating your family will try to answer the question instead of responding with complete confusion.


That was the story that sparked me writing this!

We have to be evangelists on this and tell other people—if you’re reading TidBITS, you know! But I think there’s a bit of naivety both in the young and old who are not sophisticated online people but are online all the time. My kids were a bit gullible at times; fortunately, never got catfished, phished, or otherwise scammed.

My dad, in his 80s, is a sophisticated online user (he designed websites for a while, even), and he’s trained himself to double check stuff with me. He’s usually very dubious, which is good. Apple sent him a ridiculous email that was entirely legitimate and he thought it was phishing!


10 years ago, my (elderly) parents got a call from the “police” telling them that their grandson (my son) was in jail in the big city close to where my parents lived. The scammer talked fast and was convincing enough to get my parents to ask about bringing a check to the police station to bail out the kid. When the “cop” said a check wouldn’t work, Dad finally hung up the phone and called me.

I was able to reassure them that the kid was asleep in his room (I looked in at him) 1,500 miles away.

Talk to your family and friends! Tell them about this type of scam. Stress that if it was a real emergency, they would be able to get a case number and call back AFTER checking to see it was legitimate.

Some people (especially older folks) have trouble with being “rude.” I practiced with my mom to get her to say a quick “Goodbye” and hang up the phone when scammers called.

1 Like

Excellent article! My wife and I just discussed one of the ideas Glenn mentioned and we’ve decided that if our ‘kids’ call us and it sounds suspicious we’ll just tap the ‘FaceTime’ button in the phone call. Our kids have iPhones and shouldn’t have a problem using FaceTime, but as Glenn says, scammers would likely reject the FaceTime call. If that happened we’d have some probing questions for them.

1 Like

Yep…FaceTime and questions.

The problem with this is that the call may not show up as coming from their phone. In a real situation, one of the issues may be that they lost their phone and am calling from another. So, I don’t think this is a good test unless the call claims to be from their phone.

I do like the password and the various questions that may or may not have a real answer.

A frightening element to this is that banks and other agencies are, supposedly, using voice recognition to identify customers. Back to square one!

Some UK banks, we get:

bank auto-switchboard: "please say ‘My voice is my password’ "

customer: “my voice is my password”

…I guess not anymore it isn’t!