Phishing has become a regular thing nowadays. There is various type of phishing including smishing, whaling, voice and mail phishing, etc. Robocalls and vishing scams have been experienced by about everyone who owns a Smartphone. And irritating is an understatement when trying to describe these complicated problems.
The impact of Robocalls
2018 was the year of the robocall, with over 47 billion calls made that year in the US alone, up from 2017’s 30 billion. Despite the many measures put in place to protect you, the mobile services consumer, the trajectory is expected to climb in 2019, with at least 60 billion calls expected to ruin your days.
- 1 What is Vishing?
- 2 How to avoid robocalls and vishing attacks
What is Vishing?
If you’re looking for the perfect explanation of vishing, then you’ve come to the right place. Popularly known as voice phishing, is a form of social engineering that has led to individuals losing about $4,200 and businesses some $43,000 on average.
If you receive a call from a number you do not recognize, accept it at your own risk, as the call could be coming from a criminal impersonating a bank or IRS official. In July 2018, an elaborate IRS vishing scam involving 21 fraudsters was finally quashed, after tricking Americans to give up millions of hard-earned money.
These fraudsters use ID spoofing to convince victims to pay them attention then go ahead to convince you to give up your PINs, social security numbers, passcodes, and other critical personal information. With this information, these individuals can commit far more severe crimes with your credentials, steal your money, or take a huge loan.
These two evils are intricately weaved together, as most victims attest to have had a robocall that turned out to be a vishing attack. These tend to manifest as numbers with your area code, then as soon as you pick, a robotic voice may inform you that your bank account has been hacked and that you need to submit some personal information for it to be fixed.
How to avoid robocalls and vishing attacks
Understand types of robocalls and vishing scams
Knowing how vishing scammers manifest is the first step in protecting yourself. Most of such scammers might call to inform you of:
- Suspicious activity on your mobile wallet or bank account
- Overdue taxes from the IRS, HMRC and other tax corporations
- False customer support for any of the services you are subscribed to, such as someone requesting remote access to your computer to fix wifi issues or software related ones.
If you pick up a call from an unknown number giving you any of these ‘stories’ quickly hang up and calm down. Do not speak, as some scams are built to record your voice for use in hacking your accounts.
The scammer will likely call again immediately, but do not pick the call. In case you want to confirm your bank account’s security, call a trusted bank official or even pay a visit to avoid losing money.
Many banks and government agencies have been infiltrated by fraudsters looking to make a killing from the access their jobs provide them; so it is highly likely that you will receive a call from your bank agent or a listed IRS official.
If you do pick such a call, never give any PINs or other personal information like your mum’s maiden name. The IRS communicates almost exclusively via e-mail or postal mail to protect citizens, and insist on obtaining an official number if a banking officer requests for personal information.
Install a caller ID app
While iOS and Android are doing everything they can to enhance their caller ID functionalities, the best option for you would be an app like Truecaller. Truecaller has about 250 million users globally who attest to its excellent performance.
This app already has 2 billion numbers flagged for either robocalls or phishing dials already blocked, and you can always add to their database in case you encounter another. Other notable apps that work are RoboKiller, Hiya, and YouMail.
Prefer high-quality service providers
T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have inexpensive and highly effective spam blockers in place to help you further protect yourself from robocalls and vishing scammers. Again, consider using the ‘Do Not Disturb’ option, where you can allow calls from various numbers and let all others go to voicemail.
This way, you will not pay attention to any potentially harmful calls, and robocalls do not leave any messages.
Add your number to the Do Not Call list
This measure will stop your number from being called by legitimate telemarketers. However, this is not foolproof as most robocalls are illegal and thus pay no attention to the list.
Be careful during specific circumstances
When there has been a severe natural disaster, some fraudsters will call you, requesting you to make donations to help afflicted victims so they can get your credit card information. IRS attacks tend to peak when it is time to file your tax returns.
The solutions available to help you deal with robocalls and vishing scams do not offer 100% immunity, but go a long way in protecting you from the danger they pose to your smart devices and bank accounts. You also need to stay alert and prefer to be cautious and safe rather than trusting and vulnerable.