How Bad Guys Use VoIP—and How to Protect Yourself from VoIP Scams

With every new technology that thrills us with its possibilities, there is also the accompanying fear that the same new tech can be hijacked to exploit the unsuspecting consumer. VoIP has become a mainstay for small business communications for many good reasons—but it’s also become a breeding ground for bad guys to create new scams and hacking techniques to steal personal information, and ultimately money. Let’s look at some ways these new cybercriminals misuse VoIP and how you can safeguard your business from them.

Fake Numbers and Caller IDs

VoIP makes it incredibly easy to set up fake phone numbers and identifying information. Would-be thieves like take advantage of this feature to create numbers and caller IDs that mimic legitimate banks, credit card companies and other entities designed to fool you into giving away personal or financial information. The FTC says these ID spoofers can even mask themselves to look like official government agencies. In fact, a legitimate FTC employee’s number was once used to make a scam call. Compounding the problem, these fake numbers and IDs are difficult to track because scammers can destroy them as quickly as they create them.

Hacking VoIP Hardware

As part of the “Internet of Things,” the hardware you use for VoIP can be susceptible to hackers who break into them, record calls and mine personal information from the audio.

Vishing and Smishing

As an alternative to the practice of “phishing” (i.e., sending out fake emails to trick people into typing in personal information), “vishing” is the practice of using bots to call unsuspecting victims to trick them into dialing into a fake call center to give up personal information. Another variation, “smishing,” uses SMS text messaging for the same purpose.

How to Protect Your Business from VoIP Scammers

As with other scams, a little wisdom and common sense go a long way to protect yourself against bad guys. Follow these tips to safeguard your business:

• Never give out personal or financial information to an incoming caller, even if the ID looks legitimate. If the caller says she is from your bank, for example, McAfee recommends hanging up and calling the bank directly to verify the call is from them. If you detect a spoof, report the incident to your financial institution so they can investigate.
• Never use a callback number you can’t verify or don’t recognize. No matter how legitimate the caller sounds when he asks you to call your credit card company, bank, etc., you don’t know whether the number he’s given is actually for that institution. Hang up and use the printed contact information you have for that institution.
• Keep your VoIP equipment within a secure, firewalled network. Ask your IT representative if you aren’t certain your equipment is safe from hackers.

We at NetServ are committed to doing all we can to help our customers enjoy VoIP services while staying safe from scammers. Call us at 1-877-NetServ to learn more.