If you want someone's personal information, simply call them and ask for it. Granted, it takes some skill, be it friendly persuasion by telemarketers or scare tactics from threatening debt collectors, but it often works. Unfortunately, criminals also use those same skills. The result? When you answer your phone, you might not know for sure who you are talking to or if you are a "vishing" target.
What is Vishing?
Vishing begins with an “urgent” message – either by voicemail or automated call. The message appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a financial institution or other well-known business, and requests for the recipient to dial a specific phone number or respond to an automated call. The criminal’s end goal? To obtain your personal or banking account information for financial gain.
Examples of this type of scam are:
- An email, voicemail, or text message asking the recipient to call a phone number, where they will be directed to an automated system which asks them to enter their account number, debit card, and PIN, Social Security Number, or other personally identifiable or financial information.
- A text message asking the recipient to reply to the message to:
• Activate an account or newly issued debit/credit card by entering the account number or the card number and/or PIN.
• Verify that a debit/credit card is in their possession by entering the card number and/or PIN.
• To reactivate their account or debit card, commonly used to make people think that it’s recently been suspended or deactivated.
- An automated call stating the recipient's account or card is blocked. They are directed to select a menu option and asked to enter an account number, debit/credit card and PIN, Social Security Number, or other personally identifiable or financial information.
NOTE: In some instances, WestStar may contact you by email, text, and phone (ex. fraud prevention purposes). However, we will NEVER ask for any personal or account information, including Social Security numbers, account numbers, security questions, PINs, email addresses or passwords.
What You Can Do
If you suspect the call you’re on is a vishing call:
- Do not give the caller any information.
- Ask for their name and the name of the organization they are representing.
- Tell them you will call them back and hang up. Do not use the number they provided.
- Look up the phone number for the organization they identified and call that number.
- Explain to their representative why you are calling.
You can report vishing calls to www.ftc.gov or call (888) 382-1222. To best assist their efforts, share with them the number and name displayed on the caller ID, the time of day the call was made, and the information discussed.