Vishing Attacks : Protecting Yourself
You grab your phone. You start to check the weather, Facebook notifications, or open your browser to Google something you just thought about. It feels safe, comfortable, and secure. You know to be on the lookout for suspicious email links and Facebook quizzes. But, vishing, a form of the more familiar phishing, has made something as simple and safe as a phone call dangerous.
Scammers are lurking and coming up with new phishing attacks constantly. Phishing is when these tricksters use spoof email, websites, or phone numbers to gain sensitive information. This knowledge that they gain leads them to stealing money, assets, or even your identity. The history of phishing started in the 90s. Scammers used algorithms to generate random credit card numbers, and since then it has evolved tremendously. Now they use a hybrid phishing method called “vishing” to trick you into willingly share sensitive information.
“Voice phishing”, or v-ishing, uses your phone usually replying on your caller ID. They spoof local numbers to make you feel it’s a legitimate call. It’s not saved in your phone, but hey! That might be someone you know, or important call back? Not with these scammers. They use these spoof numbers and then when you answer they pretend to be someone else. They are trying to steal your information and/or identity.
Different Vishing Attacks
Perhaps one of the most heavily used vishing calls is from some unknown caller claiming that “your car’s extended warranty is about to expire.” Another popular one is from some unknown jurisdiction claiming that “there is a warrant out for your arrest” or “you must call back immediately to avoid litigation.” These scams seem plausible, and scary! It is no wonder scared victims willingly volunteer information to avoid an unnecessary perceived cost or inconvenience.
Vishing attacks can come in all forms. Some of these schemes get pretty manipulative and creative. They tap into your emotions, sometimes even invoking fear and urgency. They can pretend to be anyone. Here are eve more vishing attacks to look out for:
- IRS Tax Scams
- Tech Support
- Romance / Catfishing
- Debt Relief or Credit Repair
- Auto Warranty
- Business and Investment
- Bank Institutes
Vishing scams are rampant! With the use of VoIP technology they are sneakier than ever. VoIP tech can create spoof phone numbers that are nearly impossible to detect. (Sometimes they even make it look like you’re calling yourself!) Don’t worry. Protecting yourself is an option here.
First and foremost, be aware of the existing and new vishing scams out there, and scams in general! Some other options you can implement include:
- Screen phone calls from numbers you are unfamiliar.
- Block numbers after you know they are suspicious.
- Call your phone company (most companies now have a spam protector add on).
- Never give out personal information over the phone to someone you don’t 100% trust.
- Do your research on any company calling.
You can also just hang up the phone, don’t respond to the prompts given, and also do not press any buttons.
Falling Victim of a Vishing Attack
Sometimes, even after working all of these suggestions, in you may fall victim to a vishing attack. Try not to panic. Here are some steps to help if this happens to you:
- Call your bank and credit lines and have your accounts put on hold, cards changed, or even you account numbers changed.
- Get your credit reports to freeze new inquiries. Just explain to them the situation of the vishing attack and they will follow the appropriate protocol.
- Report these vishing scammers to FTC, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
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