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Cybercriminals Migrate from SMS Phishing to Voice Vishing to Scam Telecom Consumers

As a ploy to defraud unsuspecting telecom consumers, cybercriminals have migrated from sending fraudulent short messages – SMS phishing – to making spurious voice calls. This is known as Voice phishing or Vishing.

This was disclosed recently by Nigeria’s telecoms regulatory authority while alerting consumers to the latest schemes of the fraudsters.

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The Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC]’s Public Affairs Director, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde explained in a statement that the latest scams now take the form of vishing.

He added that in the wake of increased internet usage and other electronic communications the Commission “warns telecom consumers and the public of the possibility of an upsurge in cybercrimes including but not limited to vishing (voice phishing) and smishing (SMS phishing).

“Telecoms consumers should be less revealing about their personal lives and details on online platforms in order not to give fraudulent persons the opportunity to target them for scams.

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“It is important that telecom consumers do not give out any information about their accounts or other online transaction details to unknown persons who pose as representatives of known organisations such as pension administrators, bankers, insurers, mobile money service providers, telecom services providers, social media accounts, group administrators, etc.

“Vishing is fraudulent phone calls from people who may claim to be calling on behalf of another known and credible organisation. The intention is to gain access to the targets’ personal social media accounts or other identity resources to perpetrate fraud”, he warned.

He added that vishing is a form of phishing which is punishable under Section 32 of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act of 2015.

“Vishing incidents typically start with a phone call from fraudsters requesting the target to perform a certain task for the caller. The call is to enable the caller – who is a member of syndicates – to swiftly take over the social media account of an unsuspecting individual or group of individuals”, he emphasised.

In line with its functions and objectives under the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, to promote and protect the interests of telecom consumers, the NCC has urged the telecom consumers to beware to the increasing incidents of fraud across various platforms.

The Commission had also advised telecom subscribers to be wary of the wiles of fraudsters and other unscrupulous persons in order not to fall victim to their antics.

To illustrate the insidious dimension of this development, the Commission provided an extract of an attempt to defraud a telecom consumer in order “to educate the general public about how fraudsters play tricks on people to defraud them”.  The recording can be accessed via the Commission’s Twitter handles @ngcomcommission or @consumersncc.

Complaints on suspected fraudulent calls can be forward to NCC through email at consumerportal@ncc.gov.ng