As official text messages went out from telecom firms this week asking users to verify their personal information, so did several identity-theft scam calls requesting the same data.
Thuy Trang, who lives in Hanoi’s Cau Giay District, received a call from an unknown number at 7 a.m. Thursday.
When she picked up, a recording told her that her phone number had not been verified and would be locked within the next two hours. The recording told her to press 9 for more information.
She was then redirected to a person who claimed to be from the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority. This person asked Trang to provide her personal ID number in order to find out why her phone number was about to get blocked.
“When I said no, the other person scolded me before hanging up. I tried to call back multiple times to ask why my number would be blocked, but failed,” she said.
Since Thursday morning, several people have received similar calls with similar tactics: an automated call saying then that their numbers were about to be locked, and that they must press a phone key for further details. Then a person claiming to be an official representative would ask for personal info like names, ages and ID numbers.
Vu Ngoc Son, technical director of the Vietnam National Cyber Security Technology Corporation (NCS), said these scams have been on the rise lately as telecom providers are in the process of verifying all data associated with their phone numbers. The Vietnam Telecommunications Authority announced Monday that phone numbers with data not matching the national database would be locked one-way starting March 31.
Son said scammers could then exploit people by fraudulently coercing them into giving up their personal data.
“These scam calls masquerading as the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority are not new, but because they are happening at the same time everyone knows telecom providers are actually requesting data verification, it has become harder for people to determine if a call is real or fake,” he said.
A representative from the Authority said that authorities in general do not call people on the phone to warn them about locking their phone numbers, or to request data verification.
“Data verification can only be done through the telecom providers’ official channels,” said Nguyen Phong Nha, deputy head of the Vietnam Telecommunications Authority, adding that verification would not require any information regarding one’s bank account.
“Users must not perform any action regarding money transfer or logging into bank accounts.”
A VnExpress survey on 11,000 respondents revealed that 98% of them had received scam calls and text messages in the past. Some 35% of them, or around 4,000 respondents, said they had become victims of such scams.
Source: VnExpress International