Are you familiar with the terms smishing and vishing? They’ve been around for a few years now, but they’re not as common as email phishing and haven’t been given as much attention.
Both smishing and vishing are variations on the phish theme: smishing targets SMS text messages, while vishing or voice phishing uses automated phone calls.
There has been a noticeable rise in both types of schemes, and attacks are expected to increase during this holiday season.
The majority of reported scams behave like this:
You receive either an automated phone call or a text message purportedly from your bank, telling you there’s a problem with your account. The phone number used to send the message is usually localized so that your own area code appears instead of a 1-8xx number (people are more likely to find the message more believable and respond when the number is more ‘recognizable’). The message will ask you to either call a phone number or log onto a website to provide account information to resolve the issue.
Another recent scheme involves automated phone calls supposedly from airlines and other travel-related businesses, telling you that because you’re a preferred customer, you’re entitled to a special offer or even a free trip. The catch is that you have to contact them back to ‘prove’ who you are to claim the prize.
Now that the holidays are upon us, more people are spending money on gifts and planning trips home to see family. Both situations are ripe for the scammers’ picking: they’re counting on people panicking over supposed problems with their accounts and replying without thinking. And a free or discounted trip to wherever who wouldn’t say no?
Have you heard of any other common schemes? I’d like to hear about them.