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Vishing definition

Vishing is a social engineering attack similar to phishing that uses deception and plays with the victim’s emotions – like fear, greed, or sense of urgency – to get personal information out of them. But unlike other phishing attacks, vishing scams only use phone calls and Voice over IP (VoIP) technology such as Skype and similar platforms.

See also: scam, social engineering

Vishing examples

  • In telemarketing or enterprise fraud, vishers pose as representatives of a well-known company. They may offer fake deals, such as cheaper car insurance or better mobile data plans, to extract sensitive data or money.
  • In government fraud, vishers impersonate government agents and use false narratives to manipulate their victims. For instance, they may claim that the victim owes taxes and demand immediate payment.

Dangers of vishing

  • Financial loss: Vishing scams often trick victims into sharing sensitive financial information, such as credit card numbers or bank account details. Fraudsters use this information to make unauthorized purchases or drain victims’ bank accounts.
  • Identity theft: Vishing may also involve obtaining personal information, such as social security numbers or dates of birth. This can result in a range of problems, including damage to credit scores and difficulty accessing financial services.
  • Malware infections: Some vishing scams convince victims to download malware or click on a link that leads to a malicious website. This may allow hackers to access the victim’s system and get their hands on sensitive data.
  • Reputation damage: In some cases, vishers may impersonate a company or organization that the victim trusts. This can be particularly damaging for businesses that may suffer a loss of customer trust as a result of the scam.
  • Psychological harm: Victims of vishing scams may suffer stress, anxiety, and feelings of violation. This can be particularly true in cases where they have been manipulated or coerced into taking actions against their will.

Watch it explained: Learn to avoid vishing scams

Further reading

Ultimate digital security