Avoiding Vishing Scams
As long as people have money, there will be criminals devising new ways to take it. As consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about “phishing” attempts, some scammers are moving on to “vishing.” With vishing, someone calls, typically pretending to be from an official source, like a bank. Here’s a common scenario:
John’s phone rings, and he sees the call is from a local number, maybe even one he recognizes. When he answers, he’s either greeted by a person, or by an automated message that transfers him to a person. He’s told there’s an “emergency” with his account – perhaps he appears to be a victim of fraud, and the caller needs to verify his personal information. (i.e. account number, PIN, social security numbers, etc.) Once this information is confirmed, the caller has all the information they need to access John’s account.
Vishing can be especially effective because of the pressure involved. The number calling appears to be local. The caller sounds nice, and might even have some information about you. The scenario sounds plausible. The callers are typically skilled manipulators. Everyone wants to address possible account problems asap.
So what can you do to avoid becoming a victim? Here are a few steps:
• Let calls from unrecognized numbers go to voicemail. (It’s predicted that by the end of 2019, nearly 50% of cellular calls will be scams.) Typically, a legitimate caller will leave a voicemail message.
• If the caller leaves a message with a call-back number, independently verify that number. If the caller asks you to call 555-1212, but your records show the bank’s number is 555-1234, call 555-1234. If the call is from your bank, you’ll be transferred to the person who contacted you.
• If you talk to the caller, hang up without verifying your information, then call the company back at a number you have on file. Do not call a number given to you by the caller.
• Never give (or confirm) personal information to a caller. Banks, government agencies, credit card companies, etc. will rarely, if ever, call (or email) to request personal information. Citizens State Bank will NEVER solicit personal information over the phone or through email.
If you’re afraid you’ve been a victim of vishing, contact your financial institution as soon as possible. There are steps you can take that might limit the damage that can be done.