In recent months, there have been countless news stories of individuals falling victim to schemes claiming financial information is needed to clear up an IRS notice, unfreeze bank accounts, or to prevent an arrest warrant. These stories usually end the same way; with the individual disclosing confidential financial information, or even sending money to the perpetrator, only to find their identity stolen, accounts hacked, and no recourse to undo the damage. This scenario demonstrates vishing, a social engineering attempt over the telephone to obtain your personal information. Vishing is when an individual, or a group of individuals attempts to gain access to your personal information or convinces you to give them credit card numbers or bank account information. The attempt can be straight forward, or they may be vishing for other information such as social security numbers, healthcare information, or to get you to say “yes” on a recorded line.
The Visher has several ways to identify basic information on an individual, including:
- Social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Search engines (Google, Bing, etc.)
- Free / paid background check services (Truthfinder, Spokeo, etc.)
8 Ways to Protect Yourself from Becoming a Victim of Vishing
What can you do to protect your information and prevent falling victim vishing? The number one rule is to be suspicious of every call received. In addition, there are some tips to avoid being a victim, including:
1. Do Not Disclose Personal Information
Never give out personal information over the telephone, including social security numbers, bank account numbers, driver’s license numbers, website log-in credentials, or credit card numbers.
2. Call Them Back on a Verified Number
If you believe the caller is legitimate, tell them you will call them back. Do not call back on the number they gave you but look up the number to verify whether it is legitimate and call the resulting number.
3. Do Not Answer Unknown Numbers
If the call comes from an unknown number, do not answer. If the person really needs to talk with you, they will leave a voicemail.
4. Listen Carefully Before Responding
Listen to the call first before responding. There are really smart voice response systems that seem like a person is calling, but in truth it is a robocall. The robocall is recording everything you say to see what they can use. The word “yes” is often all they need.
5. Never Say “Yes”
Never use the word “yes” to answer a call or respond to your name. Answer with another affirmative word such as “correct”. Vishers often record conversations and will use the recorded voice to obtain information from a voice response system.
6. Google Search
Perform a Google search of the phone number. If the Visher is using the same set of numbers to perpetrate repeated scams, a simple search may identify the caller as a scammer.
7. Trust Your Gut
If the call does not feel right, there is noise in the background, or if the connection is poor, it is likely a scam.
8. When in Doubt, Hang Up
It is not bad etiquette to hang up on a caller if the call does not feel right or if the caller is requesting personal information.
It is also important to remember that the IRS will not call you.
They will send a letter requesting you to call them. In addition, credit card companies, banks, and financial institutions will never ask for your account numbers, logon IDs, or passwords over the telephone. If they do, hang up, and call the number listed on your invoice.
Vishers are getting extremely sophisticated with their attacks. Keep yourself from becoming a victim through vigilance and good practices. Remember to never disclose your personal or company financial information, no matter who asks.
We hope you find this information valuable. As always, we are here to help. Contact Tim Grace with any questions about how to protect yourself from these types of scams or to start a conversation about protecting your financial information.