Voice phishing is the criminal practice of using social engineering over the telephone system to gain access to private personal and financial information from the public for the purpose of financial reward. It is sometimes referred to as 'vishing', a word that is a combination of "voice" and phishing. Voice phishing exploits the public's trust in landline telephone services, which have traditionally terminated in physical locations known to the telephone company, and associated with a bill-payer. Voice phishing is typically used to steal credit card numbers or other information used in identity theft schemes from individuals.
Some fraudsters use features facilitated by Voice over IP (VoIP). Features such as caller ID spoofing (to display a number of their choosing on the recipients phone line), and automated systems (IVR).
Voice phishing is difficult for legal authorities to monitor or trace. To protect themselves, consumers are advised to be highly suspicious when receiving messages directing them to call and provide credit card or bank numbers—vishers can in some circumstances intercept calls that consumers make when trying to confirm such messages.
- The criminal either configures a war dialer to call phone numbers in a given region or list of phone numbers stolen from an institution.
- Typically, when the victim answers the call, an automated recording, often generated with a text to speech synthesizer, is played to alert the consumers that their credit card has had fraudulent activity or that their bank account has had unusual activity. The message instructs the consumers to call a specific phone number immediately. The same phone number is often shown in the spoofed caller ID and given the same name as the financial company they are pretending to represent.
- When the victim calls the number, it is answered by automated instructions to enter his or her credit card number or bank account number on the key pad.
- Once the consumer enters a credit card number or bank account number, the visher has the information necessary to make fraudulent use of the card or to access the account.
- The call is often used to harvest additional details, such as security Personal identification number (PIN), expiration date, date of birth, etc.
Although the use of automated responders and war dialers is preferred by the vishers, there have been reported cases where human operators play an active role in these scams, in an attempt to persuade their victims. Posing as an employee of a legitimate body such as the bank, police, telephone or internet provider, the fraudster attempts to obtain personal details and financial information regarding credit card, bank accounts (e.g. the PIN) as well as personal information of the victim. With the received information, the fraudster might be able to access and empty the account or to commit identity fraud. Some fraudsters may also try to persuade the victim to transfer money to another bank account or withdraw cash to be given to them directly.
Another simple trick used by the fraudsters is to ask the called parties to hang up and dial their bank, but after the victim hangs up, the fraudster does not, keeping the line open and remaining connected when the victim picks up the phone to dial. When in doubt, calling a company's telephone number listed on billing statements or other official sources is recommended, as opposed to calling numbers received from messages or callers of dubious authenticity. However, sometimes hanging up and redialing is insufficient: if the caller has not hung up, the victim might still be connected, and the fraudster spoofs a dial tone down the phone line to entice the victim to dial. Then the fraudster's accomplice answers and impersonates whomever the victim is trying to call. This is known as a 'no hang-up' scam. Hence consumers are advised to use a different phone when dialing a company's number to confirm.
Bank account data is not the only sensitive information being targeted. Fraudsters are also trying to obtain security credentials from consumers who use Microsoft or Apple products by spoofing the caller ID of Microsoft or Apple Inc..
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