Wisconsin residents, particularly those who reside in Madison and the surrounding areas, have had an unpleasant surprise over the past few weeks as they’ve fallen victim to a series of scam phone calls promising free home security systems. The callers, according to Wisconsin Radio Network, have been attempting to persuade residents to volunteer to put a sign in their yard indicating the presence of a home security alarm system in exchange for free installation of such an alarm.

The calls are pre-recorded and don’t seem to have any structure or reason to their timing. The caller is first given the pitch about the free system in exchange for putting a sign up, and is then given one of two options. The pre-recorded voice indicates that the caller can push one button to speak with an operator (presumably to receive some further sales pitch), or another in order to be removed from the companies call list. Jared Albrecht, a member of the state Division of Consumer Protection, advised consumers against either option, as doing either would most likely notify the calling parties that the number they had dialed was active.

Regrettably, there seems to be little that can be done in order to prevent further calls, barring simply not responding to the message or following its request to push one of two buttons. The Division of Consumer Protection issued a statement speculating that the calls were, more likely than not, coming from overseas. The international nature of the calls greatly limits the state government in its recourse regarding the issue.

This security-pitch scheme comes on the heels of the emergence of Cryptolocker, a type of malware that effectively holds one’s digital information ransom. Cryptolocker is delivered in the form of an advertisement for heightened computer security programs. Once clicked on by a user, Cryptolocker locks some or all of the files on one’s personal computer and gives instructions to deliver a virtual payment through a series of deep-web transactions. Once this directive has been given, the user is shown a clock. If payment is not received by the time the clock expires, then the files held under Cryptolocker are destroyed, leaking one’s personal information and destroying valuable records. Regrettably, scams like this are becoming more and more commonplace in America, offering a convincing argument for securing not only one’s physical possessions, but also access to their home’s digital footprint. When making home security purchases, consideration of additional network security products may be beneficial, as well.

Cover photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.