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How to Spot and Avoid Voice Scams

  • Highlights

  • Voice scams or voice vishing attacks are attempts to gain access to your secure financial information through voice calls

  • Banks and financial companies never seek your information over voice calls

  • Do not hand over your credit card number, CVV, OTP, etc. to anyone on a phone call

“Hello, I am calling from XYZ bank/company. Your investment with us has matured now and we’re looking to release your funds. I need some details from you to verify your account before I can do that. Will you confirm some of your account details?”
By now, most of us have received numerous cyber fraud and phishing awareness mailers from our banks and companies to be on our guard when we receive emails and text messages that look suspicious. But are we just as vigilant when it comes to calls like these?

What are Voice Vishing Attacks?

These are voice scams or voice phishing attacks in which a person or an automated system is used to call an unsuspecting victim and obtain sensitive information such as credit card numbers, account login details, and even personal details that can be used for identity theft.
The one advantage that the scammer has in a voice call, is people’s natural instinct to be honest, and that we as potential victims have less time to respond. We can take our time responding to a text or an email but when someone calls us pretending to be from a bank or NBFC, we have a relationship with, a government agency, etc. we tend to get caught off-guard and end up revealing personal and financial details. Let’s take a look at some voice scams that should put you on your guard.

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“Hello. I am calling from your bank/credit card company/investment company”
A compromised or blocked bank account or credit card, an investment or insurance policy about to mature – these are common lures with voice scammers. As a rule of thumb, a bank or credit card company will never allow you to unblock any account over a voice call. Trusted NBFCs also will need you to log in to your account or visit their offices to withdraw maturity benefits.

“Hello. I am from the Government Of India. We need to update your COVID-19 vaccination status. Please give us the OTP sent to your phone”

Your COVID-19 vaccination status is updated by the hospital against your Aadhaar number. No government agency will ask you for an OTP sent to your phone.

“Hello. I am from the Income Tax department. We are taking action against you for discrepancies unless you can give us your account details to verify.”
The Income Tax department routinely sends paper communication and emails (multiple times) before any action is initiated. They simply do not call.

“Hello. I am from tech support. Your laptop/mobile phone needs to be fixed remotely. Please click Accept to help us do this”.
Unless you have contacted the tech support of your laptop or mobile manufacturer, do not click any link or pop up.

“Hello. You have won the national lottery for INR 1 crore. Please send us a processing fee to claim this.”
Again, no lottery organiser will charge you for your winnings.

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These are just some of the voice scams that should raise red flags. There could be several ingenious scams. Here’s what you can do to stay protected:

  1. Use a trusted voice screening application/software. These usually alert you against spam calls

  2. Join the Do Not Disturb registry. This keeps common spammers and scammers away

  3. Do not call back if you receive a missed call from an international number

  4. When receiving calls from unknown numbers, stay curt and do not divulge details until you determine their genuineness

  5. If you fall victim to a voice scam, report right away to the National Cybercrime Helpline at – 155260

  6. Stay alert on calls from unknown people even if the numbers seem familiar

Savdhaan Rahein. Safe Rahein.

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