People in France are being warned to watch out for a new telephone scam dubbed ‘vishing’, in which criminal callers try to take control of your bank account.
‘Vishing’ is the phone version of ‘phishing’ (in which fraudsters operate by SMS or email), and comes from the words ‘voice’ and ‘phishing’ (called ‘hameçonnage’ in French).
The fraudulent callers typically start by ‘warning’ the victim of ‘suspicious activity’ in their bank accounts. The victim is pressured into falling into the criminals’ trap and sharing personal information to ‘validate’ transactions.
The callers will sometimes seek to reassure the victim that they are genuine by sharing their name, date of birth, mailing address or other personal data.
Up to 1,500 potential victims have already been identified.
One victim, a company head, told newspaper Le Parisien that she had “become paranoid because someone got into my accounts with just one 20-minute phone call…it was like I’d been burgled”.
Jean-Jacques Latour, director of cybersecurity expertise at government online victim support service cybermalveillance.gouv.fr, said: “Each victim risks a theft of between several thousand and tens of thousands of euros.”
Cybermalveillance.gouv.fr was founded in 2017 and has recorded 600,000 requests for help from cybercrime victims since. It provides help, assistance, and prevention techniques to help individuals and companies to avoid cyber scams.
How to avoid falling victim
Stay alert to the time. Mr Latour said that these fraud attempts tend to take place “at the weekend or Friday night so as to avoid any [real] verification from your bank”.
Never give personal banking data of any kind over the phone, SMS or by email.
In case of any doubt, or a message about fraudulent activity, you are advised to call your bank independently, on a number that you have dialled yourself.
Never give out personal details without being 110% certain the request is genuine.
Remember that your bank will never ask you to confirm personal details or identifying data over SMS, email, or phone.
Le Parisien reports that a credit card number is currently worth €2.50-€20 on the dark web, while entire bank details are sold for €80-€120 each. Many details are also sold on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, it said.