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Scams happen everywhere these days: in emails, text messages, social media, and even voice calls. Vishing, a voice-based phishing scam that runs over the phone, leverages technology and your trust to try to steal your personal information. Read on to learn the definition of vishing, how it works, and how data monitoring software can help keep you protected.
Vishing, or voice phishing, occurs when a supposedly reputable person or company uses phone calls or voice messaging services to convince victims to reveal personal information. In a vishing attack, scammers (or vishers) impersonate trusted sources to get sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or government IDs.
Vishing scammers often impersonate a local or trusted business number to contact their victims. Sometimes they use vishing to implant malware on your device, and this allows them to collect your information in a different way.
Any user with a phone number can be vished: Individuals and businesses alike have been victims of vishing scams. And due to the use of sophisticated social engineering tactics, anyone can fall victim to a vishing scam.
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Phishing refers to any scam in which fraudsters pose as legitimate sources and manipulate victims into handing over personal information. Vishing is just one of several different types of phishing scams and is specific to voice phishing – phishing attacks using phones or voice messages.
There are also many other types of phishing. Spear phishing occurs when a scammer targets a specific person or organization. Social media phishing simulates a cheery post on your Facebook wall asking you to answer common security questions. And smishing is phishing through SMS messages.
Regardless of the method, all phishing attacks have the same goal: obtain personal information to steal money, commit identity theft, or take advantage of their victims' sensitive data.
There are many examples of vishing attacks and various techniques used to carry them out - new vishing scams pop up all the time. Some common vishing techniques include wardialing, VoIP vishing, caller ID spoofing, and dumpster diving. Tax and Medicare scams are typical examples of a vishing scam.
Wardialing (or war dialing) is the use of software that automatically scans lists of phone numbers and dials dozens of numbers quickly. This software is often used to find phone numbers connected to telephony devices, devices that are not phones, but have the ability to make phone calls over the Internet.
While in itself it can be a harmless nuisance to anyone who answers the phone (the software is usually programmed to hang up), hackers also use wardialing for a more perverse goal: finding human victims to scam out of a Warial Protocol account. Voice over Internet (VoIP). War dialing is also used for robocall scams, based on pre-recorded messages that stand in for human scammers.
Rather than landlines, vishing primarily targets numbers connected via VoIP. VoIP services work like landline or mobile phone numbers, exclusively through the Internet. The operation of VoIP phone numbers is less dependent on a particular physical location. As long as there is an Internet connection, the same number can make phone calls from anywhere in the world.
Although VoIP has obvious advantages, the anonymity and lack of geographic specificity of VoIP numbers make it easy for potential scammers to attack. Vishers can download and configure their software, prepare a script, and make a wave of calls with minimal cost outside of their Internet connection. And his true identity is likely to remain a mystery.
Another tool that vishers use is caller ID spoofing. Often as part of VoIP services, caller ID spoofing (not to be confused with IP spoofing) involves tricking the victim into thinking the caller is someone else. In the case of vishing, scammers trick an official or local source to convince the victim to respond. Thanks to modern technology, it's easy for scammers to get away with spoofing callers.
Dumpster diving is the practice of going through someone else's trash in the hope of finding treasure. For scammers, the treasure trove is lists of personal information on documents carelessly discarded by organizations or households. The information they find can include phone numbers, names, addresses, credit card details, and much more, allowing scammers to better trick victims into trusting them.
Credit card scams are among the most common examples of vishing. Scammers claim to be a representative of your credit card company and tell you that your credit card has been compromised. They ask for your credentials to help them "solve" the problem. Once they have the information they want, the call is quickly ended and the victim discovers that their credit card balance is depleted.
Medicare and Social Security scams involve impersonating an official representative of one of these government-run agencies. Often they will claim there is a problem with your account or offer a new benefits card; either way, they ask for personal information that should not be given lightly. These types of vishing scams generally target older people, who tend to be more trusting of phone calls and less knowledgeable about technology and scams.
IRS and tax scams, in which fraudsters pose as tax officials, have become particularly common in recent years. Tax scammers may point out that there is something wrong with your tax return or that you owe additional taxes. Then they ask you to verify your identity by showing other types of private information. If victims initially refuse, scammers threaten to cancel their benefits or arrest them in order to scare them into compliance.