What is vishing?

Have you ever received a call from a fake “Microsoft” letting you know that your computer is infected with malware and for $39.95 they can login to your computer and clean it on the spot? It’s a scam, called vishing, and we’ve had LCC employees fall for it.

(If your LCC computer ever gets infected, our internal LCC ITS employees handle the malware. Microsoft does not have a support center that will clean your computer, so don’t pay “Microsoft.”)

Vishing – or voice phishing – is the use of fraudulent phone calls to trick people into giving money or revealing personal information. It’s a new name for an old problem – telephone scams.

Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very friendly – calling you by your first name, making small talk and asking about your family. They may claim to work for a company you trust, or they may send mail or place ads to convince you to call them. Scammers use exaggerated – or even fake – prizes, products or services as bait. They don’t want to give you time to think about their pitch, they just want you to say “yes.” Some are so cunning that, if you ask for more information, they seem happy to comply. They may even provide fake testimonials from fictional “satisfied customers.”

Some common scam offers include credit and loans, exaggerated business and investment opportunities (promises of unrealistic returns for your money), charitable causes, high-stakes foreign lotteries, extended car warranties, tech support, “free” trial offers, and prize vacations.

Here is some guidance to help you spot telemarketing scams:

  • Beware of robocalls informing you of unpaid taxes or fines or making other threats.
  • Resist pressure to make an immediate decision.
  • Keep your credit card, checking account and Social Security number to yourself. Don’t share them with callers you don’t know – even if they ask you to “confirm” this information. That’s a trick.
  • Don’t pay for something just because you’ll get a “free gift.”
  • Get all information in writing before you agree to buy.
  • Check out a charity before you give. Ask how much of your donation actually goes to the charity. Ask the caller to send you written information so you can make an informed decision without being pressured, rushed or guilted into acting.
  • If the offer is an investment, check with your state securities regulator to see if the offer — and the offeror — are properly registered.
  • Don’t send cash by messenger, overnight mail or money transfer. If you use cash or a money transfer – rather than a credit card – you might lose your right to dispute fraudulent charges.
  • Don’t agree to any offer for which you have to pay a “registration” or “shipping” fee to get a prize or a gift.
  • Research offers with your consumer protection agency or state Attorney General’s office before you agree to send money.
  • Beware of offers to “help” you recover money you have already lost. Callers that say they are law enforcement officers who will help you get your money back “for a fee” are scammers.
  • The IRS will never ask you for debit or credit card numbers by phone, and will never demand immediate payments using specific methods like prepaid gift cards, debit cards or wire transfers. The IRS will contact you first via U.S. mail.
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Phone numbers and caller identities can be faked.

If you receive a telemarketer scam at work, say “no, thank you,” hang up, and report it to the Help Desk at lcc1@lcc.edu or x5221. If you have questions, please contact Paul Schwartz at schwarp1@lcc.edu.