Protect yourself from voice phishing

This week’s post from SMS Text News.

Everyone knows about email phishing and increasingly we’re being warned about the threat of voice phishing. So what is voice phishing? Your phone rings and the caller says he’s from your bank and needs to verify some transactions on your account. But first he needs you to confirm your date of birth and password. Well it might be a call from your bank but there’s no way of knowing. You’re thinking ‘you called me so why should I give personal data to someone I don’t know?’ You could hang up and call your bank direct but will you get the right department and do you even have the number to hand? From my experience these fraud prevention calls happen at awkward times and you need to react immediately.

One way to raise the level of trust in this situation is to give your key trusted contacts, like your bank, a unique phone number to call you on, rather than your usual home or office number. You can do this by signing up for a free FleXtel number and setting the Dialled Number Display (DND) feature to display the CLI (phone number) of that FleXtel number when you receive a call on it, rather than the CLI of the caller. So your phone rings, you see 0870 xxx xxxx on the display and you know that’s the number you’ve given to your bank (you can save it in your mobile against the name of your bank). No one else has it, so unless it’s a very random call from someone who correctly guesses you have an account with XYZ bank, the call is likely to be a genuine call from your bank. It’s not a guarantee but improves the probability of the call being genuine.

FleXtel offers a range of number types. I use 0870 and have it routed to a landline that diverts to my mobile if I don’t pick up the landline. If you use a 0701 number the call can be routed direct to your mobile but the caller pays a bit more. Whilst lots of companies offer 0870 and 070 numbers, the additional features from FleXtel make their numbers unique. There are lots of other uses for DND like differentiating between personal and business calls or different types of business call. Another trick I use is having a unique FleXtel number for my home alarm system to auto dial me on if it’s activated. I’ve stored the FleXtel number in my mobile with a suitable name so if I receive a call I know instantly it’s the alarm and not someone else at home calling me.

Using DND means you don’t see the CLI of the caller but the FleXtel Call Notification feature means you receive an email from FleXtel showing the number of the caller which you can check later. Even ‘withheld’ numbers display part of the caller’s number (minus the last three digits) allowing some identification (e.g. approximate location) of the caller.

This strategy can be adapted to work with both mobile and landline phones by selecting the most right FleXtel number and diverting calls as appropriate.

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