It usually comes as a phone call that sounds urgent or alarming. An unsolicited caller tells you your bank account has been compromised, and that they need your PIN so they can verify your identity or unlock the account. Or they say they’re from a government agency, such as the IRS or the Social Security Administration. Sometimes they insist you owe money. Or they might announce you’re a lucky winner — but you’ll need to pay for shipping and handling to claim your prize.
These are all examples of “vishing,” a term that combines “voice” and “phishing” to describe a scam that relies on either a mobile or landline phone. Phishing refers to any attempt by cyber criminals to steal money or personal information from people through deceptive practices. It can also be perpetrated through email and short message or texting systems (known as “smishing”).