Vishing Scam Hooks BBB Executive
Anita Harris, a community engagement executive, has worked with the Atlanta Metro Better Business Bureau (BBB) for 36 years. In her role, she has spent years educating community members on scams, including “phishing” attacks, the use of phony emails that are designed to lure unsuspecting folks into clicking a link and entering data on an illicit website.
The scammer reached Ms. Harris by phone, claiming to be from SunTrust Bank Customer Service. (The phone number was identified as coming from the bank because Harris had stored it in her contact list.) The caller said he was investigating fraud in her bank account that was connected to Amazon Prime. After asking her some basic security questions, he explained that he’d be calling back with a separate message to link to her computer and phone. Although her suspicions were partially raised when the call came back from a restricted number, the caller explained that he was working remotely.
Anita then explained she had a meeting, hung up on the caller and immediately called SunTrust’s published customer service number. But it was too late. Before she could confirm that the caller was running a vishing scam, he had already changed her contact and security information and transferred close to $3,000 from her money market account through a big wire transfer and a series of small-balance Zelle transactions.
Although SunTrust quickly froze her account, there’s no guarantee that Harris will ever get her money back.
Phishing/vishing crimes claimed 241,342 victims in 2020, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center
The reason vishing was so successful in this case — even tricking someone who is very aware about the risk of sharing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) — is that it exploits the subconscious side of human nature. Vishing criminals use specific or “vague enough to be real” details about the victim to get them to believe the scam caller is real and should be trusted.
Don’t be a Vishing Victim
The person or robot placing a vishing phone call often uses a sense of urgency or the guise of an emergency to ask you questions confirming your identity or personal details, then they ask for even more information.
Follow These Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Vishing
- When a caller claims to represent a specific company you do business with, ask for his or her name or employee identification number. Call the company back using an independent and trusted source, such as your account statement or phone book. Never call the number provided by the caller.
- If you aren’t certain whether a call is legit, tell the caller that you need to think things over. The person on the end of the line may sound sincere and trustworthy, but that doesn’t mean they’re legitimate. Contact a trusted source such as the Better Business Bureau to see if they are aware of the scam being perpetrated on others in your community.
- Be vigilant to never give out personal or financial information over the phone, not even your date of birth. Take special care if the caller requests ANY information from you to confirm who you are before proceeding with the call. The person on the end of the line may sound sincere and trustworthy, but that doesn’t mean they’re legitimate.
- When in doubt, hang up. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- State and federal laws require debt collectors to send written verification of any debts that you owe. If someone contacts you to collect a debt over the phone, demand to be supplied with a written statement.
If Your Information is Stolen
When victims are tricked into sharing their name, date of birth, Social Security number, bank account details, and other sensitive information, fraudsters are equipped to commit credit card fraud, account takeovers, and identity theft using that information.
Remember that vishers are criminals and usually do not honor the “Do Not Call” list. These fraudsters are intent on stealing people’s money and information (which, by the way, is a crime) and don’t especially care if a person’s number is on a “no call” list. If you have shared your personal information, bank account, or credit card number with what you suspect was a vishing scam, report the call to your financial institution and government agencies. Several agencies are working to reduce fraud and capture scammers, including the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Finally, If you think you have been victimized by vishing, please get in touch with us. We can help you take the steps to protect what matters most.