Telephone Fraud: how to spot it and not get caught in it

A lot of us have previously received annoying calls where “helpful” servicemen and servicewomen trying to sell us something that we do not really need. These calls are bothersome but most of the time – harmless.

There are, however, calls that can bring financial losses to you: when skilful social engineering techniques are used to trick you in disclosing your personal details, credit card numbers and other data. These calls are happening at an increasingly high rate all over the world, with pandemic making clients less vigilant.

Telephone fraud, also called vishing, has a goal of collecting your personal and financial information that can later be used to commit financial and non-financial crime.

Could this happen to you? Well, it should not. This is exactly why we have developed this short guide that could (we really hope), help you avoid financial losses and potential distress.

We believe it is vital for you to understand what exactly the fraudsters are looking to achieve when they attempt to trick you into giving them your personal and financial information:

The obvious answer would be money, but sometimes fraudsters are not looking for the money as such – your personal details are as valuable to them, as they provide the “key” to your financial data.

Once fraudsters obtain your information they can use it to impersonate you and trick the financial institution into thinking that fraudsters are, in fact, you.

So now to what you need to know and what you should be wary of:

Almost any fraud that involves telephone contact is using similar methods to bypass your internal defences: fraudsters work around our weaknesses and temptations – playing with our emotions rather than rational thinking.

First and foremost, fraudsters abuse your trust. The question however, is, should you trust a person calling you on your phone? The person you have never seen in your life, the person that is just a random voice in your phone? Are you sure the telephone number shown on the screen of your mobile is not spoofed?

You should always remember – when someone is claiming that they are a bank, tax authority representative, the Police that they actually called you and you did not dial and you should not trust them.

Fraudsters in most cases use 2 major fragilities that we have:

  • Fear of something bad happening to us or someone else,
  • Fear of missing out (sometimes referred to as “greed”)

Fraudsters often use the perceived sense of urgency to foster the impact of their words – when fraudsters call you they usually do that because, as they say, something extremely urgent is happening and they want “to protect us” with their call.

For example:

  • when fraudsters call themselves representatives of a government organisation – they use our fear of authority to play against us;
  • when fraudsters tell us that we were just selected as a winner of annual 1 mln prize draw or are owed money from HMRC – they use our fear of missing out (not getting what we “deserve”) to trick us.

Below are the simple steps you could follow when in phone conversation with an unknown person:

  • Don’t panic: literally, be calm and think through everything that is presented to you and take your time to process the information.
  • Don’t rely on your memory: when a person introduces him/herself, take a time to make a note of the person’s name, position, department – write it down.
  • Collect all the facts – again, write everything down. Genuine representatives of the banks and government organisations will never push you to make a decision straight away – they give you time to digest as pushing you could be considered unlawful.
  • Do not give out information about yourself and your finances. In many cases fraudsters would use the information you have given them over the call to get even more from you, just by repeating what you have said in the call itself.
  • Check whether it all stacks up: If the caller in fact, represents a bank or a government organisation, they will have all of your data already and if they genuinely want to help you they will never ask you for your personal information.
  • Once you fully understand a nature of the problem, ask them that YOU call THEM back. Do not use the phone number they will give you. Ask for their extension and call a number that is written on the back of your debit or credit card or is on the government agency website and then ask the operator to connect with the person who called you. If an operator cannot find the person – that means someone tried to trick you and you can be proud of the fact that you did not let them to.

We fully understand that although you could be very well prepared for a situation similar to what we have discussed above, we go extra mile at Dzing to ensure that you and your finances are safe.

Here is what Dzing are doing to prevent telephone fraud:

  1. All transactions with Dzing cards online are conducted using 3DSecure.
  2. We inform our clients about all card transactions using push notification so please ensure you enable push notifications on your device to track all your transactions and spot suspicious activity when it is happening.
  3. Dzing offers disposable cards, which allow making several transactions using virtual card number and safely dispose of the card afterwards.
  4. Our client service is always here to help you deal safely with the threat of fraud.

If you would like to know more on how to recognise the fraud and prevent it from happening, probably the best resource for you would be the information from MetPolice’s “Little book of scams”.