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What is "vishing?"

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I was listening to an interview that you did with Ray Everett-Church on your show, and you mentioned the story about the Santa Barbara bank whose depositors were defruaded via "vishing" - what is that, and in how much danger are we from it?

Thanks so much...

Sioux Falls, IA


Most of us have received spam email that looks very, very real - from our bank, from PayPal, from our ISP and the like. Usually, something's terribly wrong: our passwords have been stolen, our credit cards have been cloned. And the email instructs you to click on the convenient link, to log in and correct things.

Except it isn't from your bank, or PayPal or anyone real - it's from a hacker, attempting to get you to give up your personal information. That link leads to a very clevel look-a-like site, which completely mimics the real bank, or PayPal site. And when you "log in" on this fake site, your login information gets sent to the hacker.

This is called phishing, and it's been going on for years.

Now, there's a twist. And it's a real doozy.

Read on... (more ahead)

With this new twist, called "vishing" (the "v" is for "voice," as you'll soon see), the email comes to you, not with a link to go visit a website, but with a telephone number for you to call.

You call that number, and an automated IVR system (interactive voice response), just like the ones I voice for AOL and other companies, asks for all that same information. Sounding very official, some people have fallen for it, and have lost money when the IVR system says "Please key in your account number" and "For verification purposes, please enter your passcode".

You can imagine what happens next - the hackeer now has access to the victim's account. So horrible and so sneaky.

And all done with off-the-shelf software and easy to obtain VOIP (voice over IP) telephone numbers. When people start catching on, they scram, but not before defrauding people of lots of money.

The rule to follow here is only log on to your bank's website via their front page, in a fresh browser window. And have the bank's phone number handy to call them directly should you get a "vishing" email like this.

Thanks for listening, and for asking!

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