Most of us are already aware of email phishing scams. They are messages, usually sprinkled with bad grammar but give you a sense of urgency, that said if you do not immediately update your username and password, you will lose your Google, Facebook, bank, or whatever account you have. If you are careful and able to detect the scam behind it, you will not do anything and instead trash that message away.
But what if cyber criminals choose to call and speak to you? You would ask if that is possible. And yes, it is possible.
Cyber criminals employ sophisticated methods just to steal and destroy something you value. They use several methods and one of them is called voice phishing or “vishing.”
Voice phishing or “vishing” is a scam done through a call on your landline or mobile phone. With great voice talent, they can trick you to give them your private information.
Such was the case of Tong Kim, a professor at Korea University, University of Korean Studies, and Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. On his opinion column at Korea Times, he said he received one day a call from a woman who told him that he had an accrued balance of around 486,000 won (~P23,335) from Korea Telecom and that he needed to pay it, else his telephone service will be suspended.
Fortunately for him, he was able to call his telephone service provider after the scammers’ call and got a confirmation that he had no outstanding balance. His telephone service provider warned him that it was a vishing scam.
This gave Tong enough reason to drop the scammers’ second call and avoided a situation that would have cost him a lot of hard-earned cash.
South Korean police authorities told him that the call was generated from China through the internet phone system. The sad part, however, was they cannot trace the criminals.
“They sometimes impersonate a prosecutor or a representative of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), and they ask the victims to provide bank account numbers and pin numbers to steal money from them. Some schemers also send e-mails to the target victim with instructions to open the link to the police website ― a fake website which looks identical to the official website with the official logos,” he said.
“They often ask the victim to update their personal confidential information such as bank account and credit card numbers and pin numbers. The crooks would say they need the input to protect the victim’s interest. Some scammers use such information to take cash or credit cash advances from ATMs.”
A similar case also happened to Cris Basalo, a company manager, who received a call from an unknown number starting with zeros. And when he reviewed the numbers, it changed to +7.
“I researched the number and it showed from Russia. I have no relatives in Russia,” he told Unang Balita.
Basalo did not return the call, although he wondered about the identity of the caller.
Raymund Liboro, commissioner of the National Privacy Commission, said the phone call was a robocall, a call generated by a computer. The intention was still the same – to steal sensitive information and hack an account.
“It may have just been guessing your numbers at random. And if you catch the bait, they will be able to harvest additional information about you,” Liboro said.
“Let’s not give our mobile phone numbers to anyone. Do not post it on Facebook and strengthen your privacy settings on social media.”
In order to not fall into prey, Tong’s advice is to always be suspicious of unexpected calls from unknown numbers even if the caller claims to be someone from a law enforcement agency or a company; never provide bank accounts or any sensitive information, especially over the phone; do not open a website at the direction of an unknown caller; and report suspicious events.
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