It appears the only ones who love the holiday season more than children are criminals.

You may be familiar with the term Phishing – where scammers send you emails in an attempt to acquire sensitive information like credit card details and passwords by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business.

And much like Phishing, Vishing is the latest identity-theft ploy. Beware – this one is extra tricky.

Instead of using email, scammers use voice over internet protocol (VoIP), which allows people to make calls using an Internet connection instead of a regular phone line. The con calls their target with an automated phone message, which informs them that their account has had fraudulent charges placed on it. The account owner is then lured into dialing a fake 800 number in order to resolve the charges, where a recorded voice prompts them to confirm an account or credit card number using the phone’s touch pad. This is where the problem starts, and criminals are handed free access to your account and credit cards…talk about “The Nightmare before Christmas”. So how can you be sure that you will not fall victim to this scam?

“Who do I trust? Me, that’s who!” – Some great advice from Hollywood’s most notorious criminal, Tony Montana.

Remember…creditors, government agencies, and companies you do business with already have your personal information and will not contact you to verify it.

Never respond to a cold call requesting personal information. In the same sense that you wouldn’t send your credit card information via email, don’t be so willing to punch it into a touch tone phone.

Don’t trust your caller ID. Creating a fake display name is easy with Internet-based technology, and scammers now have the ability to make it seem like they are calling from a legitimate organization.

This just goes to show that as technology improves so do the criminal’s means of taking advantage of you. Be careful this holiday season, keep track of your purchases, and help protect your friends and family by educating them about Vishing!