TechnologyWhat is Vishing and How Do I Protect Myself?

What is Vishing and How Do I Protect Myself?

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While there are a variety of vishing methods, the most common have recently focused on stealing financial information or official IDs.

The phone has undergone a number of changes over the past few decades; starting with wires and now culminating in virtual options found in a device that can do so much more than just let you have voice chats with others.

But over the past few decades, regardless of how people have been using their phones, one thing has remained constant: scammers have used the medium to target unsuspecting victims.

For more than 30 years, vishing scams have been a dangerous (and surprisingly effective) method for attackers to target individuals and get them to hand over sensitive information. And despite attempts to educate the public about the dangers of vishing by a variety of law enforcement agencies, vishing remains one of the best ways for hackers to steal information. Here you will find more information about vishing, including some tips on how to protect yourself from the threat.

What is vishing?

Vishing is a long-standing technique used by hackers to trick unsuspecting victims through a voice call or voicemail. In vishing scenarios, someone claiming to be from a reputable organization or company that you know is actually a scammer trying to steal your information, funds, or other data.

To carry out the attack, the scammers call and misrepresent themselves. They then try to trick you into sharing your credit card number, government IDs, or other sensitive information that you wouldn’t otherwise share in a traditional setting.

Vishing vs. Phishing

If the term vishing sounds familiar, you’re likely familiar with the ubiquitous phishing scam. But unfortunately, vishing and phishing are decidedly different.

In fact, vishing can be considered a type of phishing, while phishing itself is a general term for a variety of attacks that aim to steal sensitive information. While vishing attacks focus solely on using voice to scam others, phishing scams can use a variety of methods, ranging from voice and text messages to emails and fake websites.

Other phishing scams exist, including targeted phishing, when a scammer targets a specific person or organization. Smishing is the term used when scammers use text messages to target you. There’s even whaling, a scam in which attackers target celebrities, politicians or other well-known people to blackmail them.

Regardless of the type of attack in question, phishing and vishing scams have the same goal in mind: to steal your information.

Common Types of Vishing Scams

While there are a variety of methods by which scammers use vishing, in recent years the most common have focused on stealing financial information or government IDs.

To carry out those attacks, scammers can engage in a technique called guard dialing that allows them to scan a large number of phone numbers and dial them in rapid succession to target as many people as possible. Remember: vishing is a numbers game and the vast majority of people will not fall for it. Therefore, the more people scammers can target, the better.

In a digital world, it may not be surprising that scammers have also used vishing with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Using VoIP, which provides phone service exclusively over the Internet, attackers can easily create a series of phone numbers to call others and disguise their identity while attacking victims.

Regardless, when these scammers call, they are often trying to find your credit card information or personally identifiable information. They then use that to steal your identity, drain your bank accounts, or otherwise scam you.

How to Protect Yourself Against Vishing scams?

So if vishing is such a big concern and it’s getting worse, how can you protect yourself? Fortunately, it’s not that difficult if you know what to look for.

The success of the vishing scam is ultimately based on your willingness to provide information. If you hand it over, you will be a victim of the attack. If you don’t, it will successfully avoid the threat.

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So, more than anything, make sure you have a healthy dose of skepticism when you interact with someone who called you out. While anything is possible and the call could be genuine, if something doesn’t seem right, never share any information. It’s always best to hang up the phone, call the business or organization in question, and interact with someone you know who works at the organization you’ve contacted.

Of course, also stop sharing private information over the phone. In most cases, companies do not ask for that information. It should be the first sign that something is wrong. And if you get a voicemail from a scammer, instead of replying to that person directly at the number they provided, call the company to see if someone actually contacted you.

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