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Vishing stands for “voice phishing” and refers to telephone scams.

Publicerad: 2023-01-23

Senast ändrad: 2023-09-29

Vishing stands for “voice phishing” and refers to telephone scams. Last year saw a 62% increase in the number of so-called official scams reported to the police. These involve someone claiming to be a police officer, a healthcare professional or a bank official. Fraudsters managed to trick their way to almost SEK 160 million in Sweden through vishing.

vishing - telephone scams

Make you stressed and create trust

The usual approach is that a person phones you and says that they are from the bank. The fraudster claims that the matter is urgent, as they have discovered some suspicious activity in one of your accounts. There is a reason why they operate like this, as they know that it generates stress in the person answering – and when people are stressed, they are more likely to make decisions that are not well-informed.

Once they have made sure you are stressed, the next step is to impart trust and convince you that everything will be fine, as long as you follow the steps that the fraudster asks you to take. Criminals working with vishing scams are incredibly talented and very self-assured in the way they act. This means that the fraudster sounds professional and extremely convincing in everything they say and claim.

This is what a vishing scam phone call might sound like: “Hi, this is Stefan from the bank! We’ve discovered some suspicious activity on your account.” “What, what are you saying?!” “If you just identify yourself using your BankID, I’ll help you!”

It is embarrassing, but it could happen to anyone

Being the victim of a vishing scam can be expensive in purely financial terms, but it can also cause strong feelings of shame. The victim often thinks, “How could I be so stupid?”, and chooses to keep quiet about the scam. This is understandable, as being deceived is not something you want everyone to know about. But being the victim of a scam does not need to be an embarrassment. If you are a victim, you must always report it to the police. It can also be good to talk to someone close to you about what you have experienced.

In the past, fraudsters focused more on the older population when it came to vishing scams. This is no longer the case. The trend towards targeting a more diverse age range has increased, indicating that this form of fraud is on the rise in general.

CEO scams

Vishing fraudsters also target companies, especially in these times when many people are working from home. A fraudster may call someone at the company who has some authority and claim to be the company’s CEO (once more, adding a stress factor). The alleged CEO then asks the person to execute a large transaction on behalf of the company. The transaction usually has to be done quickly, which makes the victim of the scam even more stressed.

When the call has physical consequences

A call from a fraudster can also result in theft from your home. There are many examples of fraudsters having phoned, claiming to be from the police or another authority, for example. They might say that they need to make a home visit to apply an anti-theft marking to valuables, such as this example from SVT. The pandemic is also used as a subterfuge by criminals, using the Covid-19 vaccine to justify a home visit. Neither the police nor any other authority operate in this way.

Here you can listen to a documentary from Swedish Radio about how criminals operate using vishing scams.

What to keep in mind to avoid being scammed

  • Never disclose your personal information, passwords, or codes to anyone else.
  • Never log in using your BankID at someone else’s request.
  • If you are not sure who you spoke to, phone the bank, police, or health service.
  • Contact your bank immediately if you think you have been tricked into disclosing your bank details.
  • If you are not sure who is visiting you, ask to see their ID.
  • If you suspect someone has phoned you with the intention of trying to trick you, always report it to the police.

If you own a company

Set up procedures that make it possible to contact decision-makers for extra verification when payments exceed a certain amount – for example, by phoning for approval based on a predefined contact list.

Previous warnings from Säkerhetskollen

  1. Warning about Covid-19 scams
  2. Police warn about scams targeting the elderly