The phone has become more than just a communication tool; it has become a powerful instrument for social engineering. Social engineering via phone involves manipulating individuals into revealing confidential information or performing actions that compromise their security.
The Art of Deception
Phone-based social engineering relies heavily on deception. Attackers often impersonate trusted entities or individuals to gain their target’s trust. Here are some common tactics they employ:
Phishing Calls: Scammers often pose as legitimate organizations, such as banks or government agencies, and call individuals to extract sensitive information like Social Security numbers or credit card details.
Vishing (Voice Phishing): Vishing involves manipulating victims through voice calls. Criminals may use pre-recorded messages or impersonate authority figures, like IT support or law enforcement, to trick individuals into revealing personal information or transferring money.
Pretexting: Attackers create convincing backstories or pretexts to manipulate victims into disclosing information. For instance, they might pose as a coworker seeking information for a work-related task.
Impersonation: Some attackers go to great lengths to mimic the voices and mannerisms of others. They may impersonate a family member in distress or a colleague in urgent need of assistance.
Spear Phishing: In targeted attacks, criminals research their victims to craft personalized messages or calls. These calls may reference specific events or people in the victim’s life, making them appear more legitimate.
Recognizing the Red Flags
Protecting yourself from phone-based social engineering begins with recognizing the warning signs:
Unsolicited Calls: Be cautious of calls from unknown numbers, especially if they request sensitive information or demand immediate action.
Urgency and Fear Tactics: Scammers often create a sense of urgency or fear to pressure victims into complying. Always take a moment to verify the caller’s identity.
Caller ID Spoofing: Attackers can manipulate caller IDs to appear as if they are calling from a trusted source. Never rely solely on caller ID information.
Information Verification: Be wary of callers who ask for personal or financial information over the phone, even if they claim to represent a legitimate organization.
Inconsistencies: If something about the call feels off, such as inconsistent information or a caller who avoids answering questions directly, it may be a red flag.
Protecting Yourself and The Bank
To safeguard against phone-based social engineering:
Verify Identities: Always verify the caller’s identity before sharing sensitive information. Call back using official contact details obtained independently to ensure you’re speaking with a legitimate person.
Educate Yourself: Stay informed about common social engineering tactics and be vigilant. Share this knowledge with friends and family to protect them as well.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Whenever possible, enable MFA on your personal accounts to add an extra layer of security.
Use Caution Online: Be cautious about sharing personal information on social media or other online platforms, as attackers may use this information against you. Be aware that attackers utilize information they gather from FaceBook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms.
Report Suspicious Calls: If you receive a suspicious call for your RCB Bank account(s), report it to RCB Bank’s Fraud Department immediately. (1)877.361.0814
Phone-based social engineering is a potent threat that preys on trust and human vulnerability. By understanding the tactics used by attackers and remaining vigilant, you can protect yourself. Remember that skepticism is a valuable defense, and always prioritize your security over convenience when dealing with phone calls from unknown sources.
For more information on fraud and scams please visit our Security Center to stay up to date.
Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the author and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank, Member FDIC.
Sources: Risukhin, A. (2023, May 9). Social Engineering: What it is and how to protect yourself. ClearVPN. https://clearvpn.com/blog/what-is-social-engineering/