Vishing – The basics and how you can protect your business

Fraud reporting and compliance The key to combatting fraud (1920 x 1080 px) (1200 x 627 px) Vishing

In today’s digital evolving world, we are all vulnerable to different types of fraud. Vishing is one of the most common types of fraud, and it can be devastating if you are not prepared. Vishing is a serious threat to businesses, customers, and individuals alike, as it can have devastating consequences if not detected and prevented.

To help protect yourself and your business and your customers from vishing attacks, it is important to understand what vishing is, how it works, and the steps you can take to reduce the risk. In this blog article, we will provide an overview of vishing, the potential risks it poses, and the measures you can take to protect your business and customers from this type of attack.

What is vishing

Vishing is a form of social engineering attack which uses a phone call or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to gain access to sensitive personal and financial information. Vishing is a form of phishing, it combines the words ‘voice’ and ‘phishing’ and this type of attack is becoming increasingly popular with fraudsters as it is an easy way to access confidential information.

Vishing scams usually involve the attacker pretending to be a legitimate representative of a company or organisation in order to get potential victims to provide personal data such as credit card numbers, passwords and other confidential data.

It is important to be aware of vishing scams and understand how to protect yourself from them. Vishing is an increasingly common form of fraud and one that can be difficult to prevent but understanding how it works and taking steps to protect yourself can help reduce the risk of becoming a victim.

What is the purpose of vishing?

Understanding the purpose behind vishing attacks is crucial in fortifying your defenses against them. Vishing perpetrators have clear objectives in mind when executing these scams, and being aware of their motives can help individuals and businesses alike in developing effective countermeasures.

  • Data theft: The primary goal of vishing attacks is often to steal sensitive personal and financial information from unsuspecting individuals. By impersonating legitimate entities such as banks, government agencies, or service providers, vishers aim to trick victims into divulging confidential data like credit card numbers, passwords, or account credentials. This stolen information can then be used for identity theft, financial fraud, or other malicious activities.
  • Financial fraud: Vishing attacks frequently serve as a precursor to various forms of financial fraud. Once fraudsters obtain access to victims’ sensitive information, they can exploit it to carry out unauthorized transactions, make fraudulent purchases, or even drain bank accounts. The ultimate aim is to unlawfully enrich themselves at the expense of their victims, often leaving them with substantial financial losses and significant emotional distress.
  • Identity theft: Identity theft is another significant risk associated with vishing attacks. By obtaining enough personal data from unsuspecting individuals, fraudsters can assume their identities and perpetrate various crimes under false pretences. This can range from opening fraudulent accounts and lines of credit to filing fake tax returns or committing other forms of fraud in the victim’s name. The repercussions of identity theft can be far-reaching and may take victims years to fully resolve.
  • Social engineering exploitation: Beyond direct financial gain, vishing attacks also leverage social engineering techniques to manipulate victims psychologically. By exploiting trust, authority, or urgency, fraudsters coerce individuals into providing sensitive information or taking actions that benefit the attackers. This psychological manipulation is often central to the success of vishing scams, as it bypasses traditional security measures by exploiting human vulnerabilities.
  • Network breaches and compromises: In some cases, vishing attacks serve as entry points for more extensive network breaches or compromises. By tricking employees or individuals with access to sensitive systems or information, attackers can infiltrate corporate networks, exfiltrate data, install malware, or carry out other malicious activities. This can have severe repercussions for businesses, including financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities.

Understanding the multifaceted purposes of vishing is essential for implementing comprehensive strategies to mitigate the risks associated with these attacks. By raising awareness, enhancing cybersecurity and anti-fraud measures, and fostering a culture of vigilance, individuals and organizations can better protect themselves against the detrimental consequences of vishing scams.

Vishing examples

Vishing attacks are on the rise, and they pose a serious risk to businesses. Fraudsters can obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other data. Attackers can also use vishing to install malware onto a device or to redirect funds. The following are techniques and examples of vishing:

Caller ID spoofing

Attackers will often use caller ID spoofing to make a call appear to be coming from a trusted source, such as a bank or government agency. This technique is used to gain the trust of victims, convincing them to provide sensitive information.

Voice mail scam

A vishing attack where criminals leave a recorded automated message on a victim’s voicemail that appears to be from a legitimate business or organization. The message requests the victim to call back, providing personal information or financial information, in order to receive a reward, update their account, or avoid a penalty.

Tech support call

A vishing attack where criminals pose as tech support representatives and contact victims by phone, requesting access to their computers to address a technical issue. The caller then either attempt to gain access to personal information or downloads malicious software.

VoIP (Voice over IP)

A vishing attack where criminals use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to make calls to victims and try to gain access to their personal information. This type of attack is often used for phishing, where the caller requests the victim’s bank account information.

Social engineering

Attackers will use social engineering tactics to gain information from victims, such as by pretending to be from a legitimate organization. They may also use this technique to gain access to computers or networks.

Fake offers

Attackers will often use fake offers or rewards to entice victims into providing sensitive information. In some cases, attackers may also use fake offers to infect victims’ computers with malware.

Recorded messages

Attackers may record messages that are sent to victims, in order to convince them to provide sensitive information or follow instructions. These messages may be automated or personalized, depending on the attacker’s objectives.

IRS tax scam

Fraudsters pose as IRS officials, claiming victims owe unpaid taxes or penalties, threatening legal action if immediate payment isn’t made. Victims are coerced into providing personal info or making payments via wire transfer, prepaid cards, or cryptocurrency.

Bank-impersonation scams

Criminals impersonate bank representatives, contacting victims under false pretenses like verifying account details or resolving security issues. They request sensitive info, such as account numbers or passwords, to gain unauthorized access or commit identity theft.

Social security or medicare scams

Scammers impersonate officials from government agencies, targeting vulnerable individuals, especially seniors. They claim issues with benefits or eligibility, requesting personal information like S

ocial Security numbers or Medicare IDs under false pretenses.

Delivery scams

Fraudsters impersonate representatives from delivery companies, notifying victims of undelivered packages or demanding additional payment for shipping fees. Victims may be directed to provide payment info or click on fake tracking links leading to malware installation.

Loan and investment scams

Criminals offer fraudulent loans or investment opportunities with promises of high returns or low-interest rates. Victims are enticed to provide personal or financial information, only to be deceived, leaving them susceptible to identity theft or financial losses.

Voice-cloning vishing scams

Scammers use advanced technology to clone victims’ voices, enhancing the credibility of fraudulent calls. By mimicking the victim’s voice, they deceive individuals into authorizing transactions or providing sensitive information.

Why do people engage in vishing?

The motives behind vishing scams typically revolve around financial gain, anonymity, and the exploitation of trust. Here are key reasons why individuals resort to vishing:

  • Profitability: Vishing offers significant financial rewards with relatively low risk, motivating perpetrators to target valuable personal and financial information.
  • Anonymity and impunity: Fraudsters exploit the anonymity of phone-based communication to evade detection by law enforcement, making it challenging to track them down.
  • Exploitation of trust: Vishing relies on manipulating trust and authority to deceive victims, facilitating the success of these scams.
  • Accessibility and scalability: Vishing requires minimal resources and technical expertise, enabling perpetrators to target numerous victims simultaneously using automated systems and VoIP technology.
  • Technology advancements: Advancements in technology, such as AI and voice synthesis, empower fraudsters to enhance the sophistication of their vishing tactics, increasing their engagement in these activities.
  • Urgency manipulation: Attackers exploit voice communication to induce impulsive decisions by creating urgency, manipulating victims psychologically.
  • Dynamic response: Scammers adapt tactics in real-time during voice calls, maximizing their chances of success through dynamic interaction with victims.

Understanding these motivations is crucial for developing effective strategies to combat vishing and protect against financial losses and identity theft.

What are the signs of vishing?

Recognizing the signs of vishing is essential for protecting yourself and your organization from falling victim to these scams. Here are some common indicators that a phone call or message may be a vishing attempt:

  1. Urgency or pressure: Vishing calls often create a sense of urgency or pressure, insisting on immediate action or threatening negative consequences if demands are not met promptly.
  2. Request for personal information: Be cautious if the caller requests sensitive personal or financial information, such as account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, or verification codes.
  3. Unexpected requests or offers: Beware of unexpected requests for payments, account updates, or verification, especially if they come from unfamiliar or unexpected sources.
  4. Caller ID spoofing: If the caller’s phone number appears to be from a legitimate organization but the call seems suspicious, it could be a sign of caller ID spoofing used to deceive victims.
  5. Unsolicited calls or messages: Be wary of unsolicited calls or messages, especially if they claim to be from government agencies, financial institutions, or service providers, without prior contact or authentication.
  6. Threats or intimidation: Vishing calls may involve threats of legal action, arrest, or other consequences to coerce victims into compliance. Legitimate organizations typically do not use such tactics.
  7. Unsolicited tech support: Be cautious if someone claiming to be from tech support contacts you unexpectedly, especially if they request remote access to your computer or payment for services.
  8. Too good to be true offers: Be skeptical of offers or opportunities that seem too good to be true, such as lottery winnings, prizes, or investment opportunities with guaranteed high returns.
  9. Poor call quality or suspicious background noises: Pay attention to the quality of the call and any suspicious background noises, such as echoes or static, which may indicate a fraudulent call center operation.
  10. Emotional manipulation: Vishing scammers often use emotional manipulation to gain victims’ trust or sympathy, appealing to their fears, desires, or sense of obligation.

By being aware of these signs, you can better identify and avoid falling victim to vishing scams, protecting yourself and your assets from potential harm.

What should you do if you’ve experienced a vishing attack?

Experiencing a vishing attack can be distressing, but taking prompt action can help mitigate potential damage and protect yourself from further harm. Here are steps to follow if you’ve been targeted by a vishing scam:

  1. Hang up or delete: If you receive a suspicious phone call, hang up immediately. Similarly, if you receive a suspicious text message or email, delete it without responding or clicking on any links.
  2. Do not provide information: Avoid providing any personal or financial information to the caller or sender, including account numbers, passwords, or verification codes.
  3. Verify the caller’s identity: If the caller claims to be from a legitimate organization, verify their identity independently. Contact the company or institution directly using official contact information from their website or official documents, and inquire about the legitimacy of the communication.
  4. Report the incident: Report the vishing attempt to the appropriate authorities or organizations. This may include your bank or financial institution, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or local law enforcement agencies.
  5. Monitor your accounts: Regularly monitor your bank accounts, credit card statements, and other financial accounts for any unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized charges or suspicious behavior to your financial institution immediately.
  6. Update ecurity measures: If you suspect your personal information may have been compromised, take steps to update your security measures. Change passwords for online accounts, enable two-factor authentication where available, and consider placing a fraud alert or freeze on your credit reports.
  7. Educate others: Share your experience with friends, family, and colleagues to raise awareness about vishing scams and help others avoid falling victim to similar attacks. Encourage them to be vigilant and cautious when receiving unsolicited communications.
  8. Consider seeking support: If you feel overwhelmed or anxious as a result of the vishing attack, consider seeking support from trusted friends, family members, or professional counselors. Talking about your experience can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
  9. Stay informed: Stay informed about current vishing trends and tactics by following updates from reputable sources, such as cybersecurity organizations, government agencies, or financial institutions. Knowledge is key to staying one step ahead of scammers.
  10. Stay vigilant: Remain vigilant against future vishing attempts by continuing to practice caution when receiving unsolicited communications, verifying the identity of callers or senders, and staying informed about common scams and fraud tactics.

By following these steps, you can effectively respond to a vishing attack, minimize potential harm, and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of future scams.

What’s the difference between vishing, phishing, and smishing?

While vishing, phishing, and smishing all involve fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information, they differ in their methods of execution and communication mediums. Here’s how they distinguish themselves:

  1. Vishing (Voice phishing):
    • Method: Vishing uses phone calls or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to deceive victims into divulging personal or financial information.
    • Communication medium: Perpetrators impersonate legitimate entities, such as banks or government agencies, over the phone to manipulate victims into providing sensitive data.
    • Examples: A fraudster posing as a bank representative calls a victim, claiming there’s suspicious activity on their account and requests verification of account details.
  2. Phishing:
    • Method: Phishing involves fraudulent emails, messages, or websites designed to trick recipients into revealing confidential information or downloading malware.
    • Communication medium: Perpetrators impersonate trusted entities, often through email or messaging platforms, and employ various tactics to deceive recipients.
    • Examples: A phishing email disguised as a legitimate company prompts recipients to click on a link and enter their login credentials, which are then captured by the attacker.
  3. Smishing (SMS phishing):
    • Method: Smishing employs text messages (SMS) to trick recipients into providing personal or financial information or clicking on malicious links.
    • Communication medium: Perpetrators send deceptive text messages to mobile phone users, often posing as legitimate organizations or authorities.
    • Examples: A smishing message purporting to be from a delivery service informs recipients of a package delivery but requests payment confirmation by clicking on a link, which leads to a phishing site.

What Is the difference between vishing and phishing?

Vishing and phishing are both forms of social engineering attacks, but they differ in their primary mode of communication. While vishing relies on voice calls or VoIP technology to deceive victims, phishing typically involves fraudulent emails, text messages, or websites. Despite this distinction, both techniques aim to obtain sensitive information such as personal data or financial details through deception.

What Is the difference between vishing and smishing?

Vishing and smishing share similarities in their deceptive tactics but differ in the mode of communication used to target victims. While vishing utilizes voice calls or VoIP technology, smishing involves fraudulent text messages sent to mobile devices. Despite these differences, both vishing and smishing rely on exploiting human psychology and trust to trick victims into divulging sensitive information or performing actions beneficial to the attacker.

How to avoid becoming a victim of vishing?

The following points outline how individuals can avoid becoming a victim of vishing:

  • Understand how Vishing works: Vishing is a type of cyber-attack where fraudsters use voice-based communication such as telephone calls to trick and convince the victims into providing sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, or other personal information. Knowing how Vishing works can help you to recognise potential scams and protect yourself from becoming a victim.
  • Use caution when responding to fishing calls: Be wary of calls that request sensitive information. Do not provide any personal information unless you can verify the identity of the person on the other end. If a caller claims to be from a reputable company, hang up and call the company back directly at the number listed on their website to verify the identity of the caller.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited calls: Vishing scams often begin with an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from a legitimate organization. If the call seems suspicious, do not provide any personal information and hang up immediately.
  • Verify the caller’s identity: If you’re uncertain about the caller’s identity, hang up and contact the organization directly. Use contact information from the organization’s website or a trusted source, not from the caller.
  • Do not follow instructions to call a number provided: If the caller directs you to call a certain number, do not follow it. This could be an attempt to get you to call a spoofed number that looks legitimate but is actually a scam.
  • Do not provide sensitive information: Do not provide any sensitive information, such as passwords, and credit card numbers numbers to anyone over the phone. Legitimate organizations will never ask for this information over the phone.

Smishing and identity theft

To commit identity theft, criminals use vishing techniques to contact victims via phone, posing as legitimate representatives of businesses, banks, or government agencies. Vishing can have serious financial and reputational consequences for businesses. Business owners must be aware that vishing is a popular tactic used by cybercriminals and should take steps to protect their customers’ data.

This includes educating staff on how to spot a vishing scam and implementing robust security measures such as two-factor authentication and data encryption. By taking the time to understand the risks posed by vishing, businesses can better protect their assets and customers and help prevent identity theft.

Businesses are especially vulnerable to vishing attacks, as hackers can use spoofed phone numbers or fake caller ID names to appear as legitimate companies or banks in order to gain access to the victim’s personal information. Businesses should be aware of the potential risks associated with vishing and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their customers. This includes educating employees on the risks of vishing and implementing policies and procedures to help prevent vishing and other forms of fraud such as identity theft and account takeover.

How can organisations prevent vishing attacks?

Organisations can take the following steps to prevent vishing:

  • Train employees on vishing attacks and the importance of keeping sensitive information secure: Provide employees with training on how to spot vishing attacks and the importance of keeping confidential information secure. Explain the types of information attackers can obtain through vishing and the potential consequences of a successful attack.
  • Implement two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication (2FA) requires a user to provide two pieces of evidence (e.g. a password and a one-time code sent to their phone) to access an account or system. This makes it much harder for attackers to access accounts using stolen credentials.
  • Harden telephone systems against attacks: Harden telephone systems against attacks by using features like caller ID, call blocking, and caller authentication. These features can help to prevent vishing attacks by making it more difficult for attackers to spoof phone numbers and impersonate legitimate callers.
  • Use multi-layered security for sensitive data: Implement multi-layered security for sensitive data, such as encryption, secure storage, and access control. This will make it much harder for attackers to access and use the information they obtain from vishing attacks.
  • Monitor telephone networks for suspicious activity: Monitor telephone networks for suspicious activity, such as unexpected calls or attempts to access sensitive systems. This will help to identify potential vishing attacks before they can do any damage.
  • Educate users on the importance of verifying phone calls: Educate users on the importance of verifying phone calls before providing any sensitive information. Attackers will often try to impersonate legitimate organisations in order to obtain sensitive information, so users should always verify the caller’s identity before sharing any information.
  • Implement voice biometrics: Implement voice biometrics to identify legitimate callers and prevent attackers from impersonating them. This technology can help to ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive information.  
  • Secure the VoIP infrastructure and systems: this means ensuring that the VoIP network and its associated components are correctly configured and protected from unauthorized access and malicious activity. This can include using firewalls, encryption, and other security measures to protect the system from attackers.
  • Utilising trusted call-back procedures: refers to the process of verifying a caller’s identity during a call. A call-back procedure typically involves a caller entering their phone number and a verification code, which is then sent to the caller’s phone for them to enter the system. This helps prevent unauthorized access to the VoIP system by verifying that the caller is who they say they are.
  • Use strong passwords with strong authentication: the use of a combination of passwords and authentication methods to ensure that only authorised users can access the system. This can include using two-factor authentication and multi-factor authentication, which adds an extra layer of security by requiring additional information to be provided (such as a code sent to a user’s phone) in order to gain access.

Preventing vishing with Udentify

It is highly important to be aware of how vishing works and take the necessary steps to protect your business and customers from vishing. With Udentify, you can protect your business and customers from vishing attacks by using identity verification and authentication. Udentify provides an easy and secure way for users to verify their identity and authenticate themselves.

Udentify’s identity verification and authentication process are designed to provide an extra layer of security against vishing attacks. Users are required to enter personal information such as their full name, date of birth and address in order to verify their identity. Once verified, users can securely authenticate their online transactions with Udentify’s authentication processes.

Udentify also offers additional security features such as biometric authentication and liveness detection to further protect users from vishing attacks. Biometric authentication adds an extra layer of security by using facial recognition to identify the user.

By using Udentify’s identity verification and authentication process, you can help protect your customers from vishing attacks and feel confident that personal information is secure. With Udentify, you can have peace of mind knowing that your transactions are secure and protected.

Vishing FAQs

1. What is vishing?Vishing is a form of social engineering attack that uses phone calls or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to deceive individuals into divulging sensitive personal and financial information. It combines the words ‘voice’ and ‘phishing’ and has become increasingly popular among fraudsters as an easy way to access confidential data.
2. What is the purpose of vishing?Vishing attacks serve various purposes, including data theft, financial fraud, identity theft, social engineering exploitation, and network breaches. Fraudsters aim to steal sensitive information, exploit victims psychologically, and compromise corporate networks for financial gain and anonymity.
3. What are the signs of vishing?Signs of vishing include urgency or pressure, requests for personal information, unexpected offers or requests, caller ID spoofing, unsolicited calls or messages, threats or intimidation, unsolicited tech support, too-good-to-be-true offers, poor call quality, and emotional manipulation.
4. What should you do if you’ve experienced a vishing attack?If you’ve experienced a vishing attack, hang up or delete the message immediately, do not provide any information, verify the caller’s identity independently, report the incident to the appropriate authorities, monitor your accounts for suspicious activity, update your security measures, educate others about vishing, consider seeking support, stay informed, and stay vigilant against future attacks.
5. What’s the difference between vishing, phishing, and smishing?Vishing, phishing, and smishing are all fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information, but they differ in their methods of execution and communication mediums. Vishing uses voice calls or VoIP technology, phishing involves fraudulent emails or websites, and smishing uses text messages.
6. How to avoid becoming a victim of vishing?To avoid becoming a victim of vishing, understand how it works, use caution when responding to calls, do not respond to unsolicited calls, verify the caller’s identity, do not follow instructions to call a provided number, do not provide sensitive information, and be wary of emotional manipulation.
7. How can organizations prevent vishing attacks?Organizations can prevent vishing attacks by training employees, implementing two-factor authentication, hardening telephone systems, using multi-layered security for sensitive data, monitoring telephone networks, educating users on verifying phone calls, implementing voice biometrics, securing VoIP infrastructure, utilising trusted call-back procedures, and using strong passwords with strong authentication.
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