What is vishing?

Vishing is where a fraudster uses voice messages or phone calls to try to steal identities, and financial information like your PIN, card details and Digipass code.

The term comes from the combination of ‘phishing’ and ‘voice’. Phishing is where fraudsters use email, regular phone calls and fake websites to dupe people into giving them personal details and financial information.

Vishing is specifically the use of a VOIP service (Voice Over Internet Protocol, or an internet phone service), which enables fraudsters to communicate with their potential victims via automated voice messages and the phone keypad.

Vishers can create fake caller ID profiles so that their phone number seems legitimate, and vishing requests sound urgent, to panic the victim into acting without thinking.

 Examples of vishing:

  • Your bank account has been compromised
    You receive call from what appears to be Triodos Bank’s phone number. When you answer, you hear a recording pretending to be from Triodos, saying that your bank account has been compromised, and you need to call a freephone number to reset your security details. Calling this number, you would hear another automated message asking for your bank account number, Digipass code or other personal details via the phone keypad.
  • You’re eligible for a loan
    You are offered loan or credit terms too good to be true (they probably are), and to receive the money, you just need to pay an upfront fee or provide your security details.
  • You’re due a refund
    You receive a message that says you are due a refund. This is usually someone claiming to be from a trusted organisation. If you opt in – usually by pressing a number on your telephone - you will be redirected to a call centre agent who will attempt to defraud you or steal your information.
  • Don’t miss this investment opportunity
    An automated voice message tells you about an investment opportunity too good to turn down. You’ll be encouraged to transfer money to invest in a company or service that doesn’t exist.
  • You’ve won a prize
    Victims hear an automated voice message about a free offer or prize, and just need to pay postage, redemption or admin fees to claim. There’s often a deadline to hurry people into handing over their card details.

What you can do

If you receive an unexpected phone call with an automated response, hang up, search for the company’s genuine contact details online and check whether the call was legitimate. If it was, the company will be able to help you, and if it was a vishing attempt, letting the company know enables them to take action, and you will have protected yourself from fraud.

If the call relates to an investment opportunity, check the FCA register to see if the investor is regulated, and confirm the company exists by checking Companies House.

How to report a vishing scam

If you think you have been a victim of a vishing attack, call us immediately on 0330 355 0355. Then report to the FCA using their reporting form.

If you have lost money to suspected investment fraud, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Related FAQs

Related how-to guides

How to spot and prevent CEO fraud

How to report fraud

How to check that an email from Triodos Bank is genuine

How to report business fraud

How to protect your business from fraud

How to check that a website is genuine

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