What are 'vishing' scams and how can people protect themselves?

Police are warning people to stay vigilant after they received calls about scammers claiming to be f

What is 'vishing' fraud? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fraudsters are continuing to target people in Suffolk with so-called 'vishing' scams, it has been warned. 

Suffolk Trading Standards said while the Covid-19 pandemic saw criminals exploit people's fears over the virus, scammers are still using similar 'phishing' techniques to try to steal money. 

Vishing is where scammers will call victims on landlines or mobile phones pretending to be from banks, building societies, government agencies or well-known companies to obtain information from the person.

If collected, that information is then used to trick victims into handing over money or to commit fraud elsewhere. 

The word vishing is a combination of ‘voice’ and ‘phishing’.

Impersonation scam cases almost doubled in the UK in 2020 as criminals sent fraudulent emails claiming to offer government support to those impacted by the pandemic and scam text messages requesting payments to book a Covid-19 vaccine.

They also impersonated delivery companies to exploit the rise in online shopping.

Sasha Watson, community engagement officer at Suffolk Trading Standards. Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING ST

Sasha Watson, community engagement officer at Suffolk Trading Standards. Picture: SUFFOLK TRADING STANDARDS - Credit: Archant

While data from Action Fraud revealed that more than £10million has been lost by victims to courier fraud - a type of vishing scam where fraudsters come to victims home to collect cash or items following a fake call. 

In Suffolk, victims lost more than £137,000 to courier fraud in the past 13 months, according to Action Fraud's rolling data. 

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Sasha Watson, from Suffolk Trading Standards, said more people have picked up scam calls on their landline due to working from home. 

"As a country, a lot more people have been working from home and being bombarded with telephone calls on their landline - which they would not normally be picking up," she said. 

"So there's been a higher number of people falling foul to those types of phishing calls - and that's all age ranges. 

"We saw postal scams increase during the lockdowns because people were having to order online and therefore people were having more deliveries at home. 

"The scammers jumped straight onto that with text messages sent through telling people they had missed a delivery or hadn't paid for the delivery, and to click on the link. 

"Because we've lived in a different way during those lockdowns, it's opened it up for criminals to target more people." 

She urged people never to give out personal details, never to click on suspicious links and never to give remote access to computers following a cold call. 

More advice on fighting online fraud is available here or from trading standards here