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Vishing Scams Taking Advantage of Innocent People

by bhazelton on April 19, 2007

Residents of Jefferson City, Missouri were recently taken advantage of by a new twist on old phishing scams that are starting to crop up in other areas of the country. With this scam, which is being referred to as vishing because of the fact that it utilizes VoIP services, involves calling people and telling them to call the local Central Bank with a toll free number

This is how the vishing scam works: Once callers dial the toll free number, they are asked to provide personal information in order to avoid account deactivation. Sadly, over two dozen people called the number in Jefferson City alone. Unfortunately, a few of them even shared their bank account information and left themselves wide open to be taken advantage of.

This isn’t the only case of such a scam and it certainly won’t be the last. To make matters worse, it is a relatively easy scam to pull off. All the scam artist needs is specialized equipment or access to an online service that manipulates caller ID information by making a fake number appear on the recipient’s caller ID. It is easy to get a hold of this equipment and it doesn’t cost much, either. In fact, cards that allow for an unlimited number of “spoof” calls and 60 minutes of talk time can be purchased at for just $10.

Amazingly, selling these cards is perfectly legal because they are sold under the guise that they are to be used for “entertainment purposes only.” In addition, the company says it will surrender all documents of users if subpoenaed. This is all well and good, but it does little for the unsuspecting person that receives one of these spoof phone calls and believes it to be legitimate because of the number appearing on the caller ID.

Thankfully, there is a bill currently in the House of Representatives, which has been named The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2007. This bill will prohibit manipulating caller ID information. This is good news – but truly a sad commentary on our society that something of this nature would be necessary.

Until the act is put into place, scammers will certainly continue to take advantage of more people. So, be extremely cautious when it comes to sharing your information over the phone. Sadly, you can’t rely on simply returning a phone call from what you think is a trusted bank or financial institution. Instead, call back using the number in your records in order to verify the authenticity of the call and never give out your account or other personal information.

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