Consumers have been attacked by fraudulent phishing scams for several years, and just when individuals have come to recognize the emails as fake pieces of information, there are new scams out there trying to delve into the consumer’s pocketbook by asking for the same information in a different manner. With the introduction of vishing and smishing, the attacks continue to try and lure innocent victims into providing information using voice calls and SMS messages. Using an urgent and heartbreaking emotional communication, the messages are meant to send you or your loved ones into a panic. Once you have begun panicking, your emotions take over, and you become an easy target for the scams.
Who Gets Attacked?
Learning to deal on an emotional level to manipulate their communications has let the scam artists move into a new realm of anxiety, causing information capturing by employing threats of life and death, jail, and loss of personal security. This can be especially worrisome for those that are elderly or are mentally incompetent. Once a worried consumer is on the line with a scammer, the information requested can often be extracted with almost no effort. Internet security specialists such as Hari Ravichandran believe the threats will continue to grow as the scam artists persist in honing their skills, so people need to protect themselves from the cons.
What Is Vishing?
Did you know it is rather simple to fake caller IDs when making a phone call? Yes, that means you can pretend to be someone you are not using a phone number or name of an organization when you make a phone call. That is what the new vishing scam is all about. You may see the name and phone number of a person you love or a company you do business with flash across the screen as your phone rings. If you don’t answer the phone call, the con artist will leave you a voice mail telling you how urgent it is that you call them back as soon as possible. When you call back, the scammer will try to find a way to get your account numbers, credit card information, social security number, or birthdate from you. Beware, they are now clever enough to try and get information about children or dependents. Also, the scam service may have you call back numbers and input information into the system that you would normally do when calling a service you do business with. Never leave information with a company you do not direct dial.
What is Smishing?
Smishing is handled much like the vishing scam in that it requires you to give sensitive information over the phone. A smishing scammer will leave a threat about something not only time-sensitive, but urgent, and then demand you phone back immediately. One recent scam had to do with an individual’s social security number being invalidated, and another told individuals their loved ones were in jail and needed bail money. Both types of calls require personal information and many people were caught in the smishing scam because when they called back, the service transferred them to a working scammer – and people believed they were calling government offices.
And More Smishing?
Another type of smishing that people are inadvertently caught in every day is the texting smishing. This is where a text will be sent to an individual stating something like a credit card has been breached. A link will be provided, and the receiving individual is told to click the link and file a report or verify the information to secure the account. Once the link is opened, malware is installed because by clicking on the link you activate a malware download. This can be a deadly situation if you store personal information, private numbers, or accounts on your phone or computer. The latest example of this smishing scam had to do with a text that simply asks if this photo was really you– and who doesn’t want to know it, the picture is indeed of them. The link is almost always attached to malware.
Can You Protect Yourself?
Even the most defensive person can get caught off guard with the new vishing and smishing cons. Scammers have become more adept at tricking, coercing, and proliferating. If you want to protect yourself from the scams as they are created, modified, and adapted, you have to think before you click. Although you may not always employ common sense when you see a phone message from your credit card company asking you to give personal information, rather than click the link, call the company back. The same is true of any jail, bail, or social security schemes you may encounter. Call the jail, bail department, or social security office – don’t rely on the person calling you to be telling the truth.
Although it may be difficult to hear that you can never trust someone calling you and asking for information, it is better to be safe than sorry. Don’t give your personal information to anyone calling you – ever.