How-To

Vishing: What is it and how to prevent it?

Anand Kalyanaraman | BL Research Bureau | Updated on August 12, 2019 Published on August 12, 2019

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Ever received a phone call or SMS seeking confidential information? It might be a way to part with your money

Last week, there was news that Praneet Kaur, Congress MP from Patiala, and the wife of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, lost ₹23 lakh to cyber fraud. A fraudster, posing as a bank manager, duped Kaur through a mobile phone call. This kind of fraud is commonly known as ‘vishing’.

The fraudster asked for Kaur’s bank account details on the pretext of wanting to deposit her salary. He eventually managed to get her account number, ATM pin, Card Verification Value (CVV) number and an One Time password (OTP), reports say. Soon, Kaur got an SMS that ₹23 lakh was debited from her account. The accused has been reportedly been arrested.

But such quick action may not always happen. It’s best to safeguard yourself from such frauds, rather than running around for redressal.

What is it?

Vishing, is short for ‘voice phishing’. In vishing, conmen try to extract your confidential information over the phone.

Conmen ‘phish’ (seek to extract) for your confidential information like passwords, Personal Identification Number (PIN), CVV and OTP. They then use this information to defraud you. While phishing happens over e-mail, ‘vishing’ happens over the phone and SMShing (also called SMiShing) happens through SMS.

Modus operandi

A confident voice at the other end of the phone line claims to call from your bank, card company, the RBI or some such powers-that-be. He or she may possess some of your basic personal details, and uses this to convince you about the genuineness of the call, and to part with critical details.

Similarly, the messages purporting to be from your bank or from the RBI can goad you to share such confidential information. Some messages may also carry malicious links or phone numbers that you are egged on to click or call.

The alibis employed by fraudsters are many. They may say that the information is needed to claim your windfall or special offer, keep your card or account active or verify details as part of regulatory procedure.

If you part with your confidential data, you could see your card being charged or your account being debited in quick time.

How to be safe?

First and foremost, never share your details such as passwords, PIN, CVV and OTP with anyone. Be on the alert, and don’t pass on this critical information in a weak moment.

Your bank or card provider will never ask for such information. Nor will the RBI.

So, such calls or messages should immediately raise a red flag. Cut them off and ignore them. Keep off links or attachments that come from unknown or suspicious sources. Report such instances to your bank, card company or the RBI.

Published on August 12, 2019
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