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Don’t make that phone call!

You receive a phone call supposedly from your bank.  Is it really your bank or someone trying to get your information?  Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to get your personal and financial information.  Especially during the holiday season, be on the lookout for vishing scams.  Whereas phishing attacks generally use emails to request your personal information, vishing attacks use a phone and can come in many forms.  You may receive an email or text message with a phone number for you to call regarding an issue to your account.  The phone number will take you to a fake automated answering system and ask for your social security number for verification or perhaps your debit account number along with your PIN. 

There has even been a vishing scam where computer technicians would call and say they found an issue with your computer and would like to fix it.  All you need to do is log on to your computer and follow their instructions.  Instead of ‘fixing’ your computer, they install malware to steal your information.

If you suspect a vishing attempt…

If you receive an email or text message asking you to call a number relating to one of your accounts, be safe and don’t call the number.  Call the company directly.  Your bank and credit cards should have customer service numbers on the back.  You can also look for the phone number on your account statements.  Forward the text message to 7726 (SPAM) to report the suspicious message.

If the email appears to be from a legitimate company you do business with forward the email to them and ask if they really sent it.
If you receive an incoming call and the person or automated system asks for your personal information, hang up.

You can’t rely on the caller ID

Scammers have been known to ‘spoof’ or change the caller ID to display a false or fake number and name that appear to come from a legitimate company.
While writing this blog post I received a text message telling me to call a number regarding my account.  I did not call the number but forwarded the message to 7726 to report the spam.  This shows that vishing is real and can happen to anyone.  Once someone has your personal information they can access your accounts or even pretend to be you to open new lines of credit so be smart and don’t make that call!

Image by Flickr user Clemson

Christina Bonds

Christina Bonds is an Application Specialist in the Web Technology department at Elon University.

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