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FBI rings warnings over VoIP phishing cons

'Alarming' rise in vishing

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Fraudsters are turning to VoIP systems to craft more convincing phishing attacks. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3) warned last week of an "alarming" rise in the volume of so-called vishing attacks targeting US financial institutions and consumers.

Phishing attacks commonly take the form of forged emails that attempt to trick consumers into disclosing their online banking login credentials to fraudulent sites in response to bogus warnings that prospective marks need to respond to a "security check".

Vishing (voice phishing) attacks involve variations on the theme. In both cases, prospective marks are warned that their accounts will be suspended or cancelled unless they respond.

Vishing messages, unlike traditional email phishing attacks, can arrive as a text message or phone calls in addition to email. Also, vishing attacks are designed to con concerned users into handing over credit or debit card details to fraudsters in calls routed through a cheap VoIP-based answering system.

"Recipients are directed to contact their bank via telephone number provided in the email or by an automated recording. Upon calling the telephone number, the recipient is greeted with 'Welcome to the bank of...' and then requested to enter their card number in order to resolve a pending security issue," the FBI's cybercrime clearing house reports.

One recent variant of the attack involved a text message that claimed the recipient's online bank account had expired. Prospective marks were encouraged to "renew their online bank account" by using the link provided, which directed the credulous to a mobile phone-friendly fraudulent website.

IC3 advises that since criminal methodologies are evolving, the only safe response is to be wary of all emails, telephone calls, or text messages requesting personal finance data.

Consumers with security concerns would do better to contact their banks directly using phone numbers included in statements or telephone books. Recipients of vishing attacks, or other similar hoaxes, are invited to file a complaint with IC3 via its website. ®

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