Attackers trick victims into calling them back on premium-rate numbers
Have you ever received a burst of missed calls from strange numbers in a short span of time? Such missed calls usually last for just one ring and it is strongly recommended that you DO NOT call these numbers back. This is an old scam that has resurfaced and we would like to warn our users against them.
These are international premium-rate numbers (IPRN) and people who call them are charged hefty rates which are transferred to the attacker. The trick is known as the ‘Wangiri’ fraud. In Japanese, ‘Wangiri’ means ‘one ring and cut’ and it is believed that this scam originated in Japan.
What is a premium number?
Premium-rate numbers are typically known as toll numbers and their origin can be traced to several European countries. Telecom operators offer a limited number of premium numbers which are acquired by businesses. Callers are charged premium rates (higher than regular calling rates) when they dial such numbers and the revenue earned is then shared between the telecom operator and the owner of the number.
Commercial establishments advertise these numbers for tech support, voting polls, competitions, directory inquiries, weather forecasts and more.
How a Wangiri scam works?
Once an attacker has acquired a premium-rate number he gives missed calls to thousands of cellphone numbers chosen randomly. Inadvertently, an unsuspecting victim calls the number back. An individual answers the call and tries to prolong the conversation under some pretext. All this while, the curious caller gets charged a large amount for the call. The rates range from Rs. 50 per minute to Rs. 200 per minute.
The latest slew of attacks has arisen from numbers starting with a +92 code. This code belongs to numbers from Pakistan but it is impossible to be sure as attackers could have used several masking techniques. Tracing the country of origin of such calls is a very difficult process and it can only be accomplished by law enforcement agencies. It is largely suspected that these calls do not originate in India. Hence, callers are charged international rates for calling these international premium-rate numbers.
It is an ingenious way of stealing money off victims. Prepaid users will find their credit drastically reduced whereas postpaid users would only come to know of these charges once they view their monthly bill. The best course of action would be to simply ignore such suspicious missed calls and refrain from calling them back. Quick Heal Mobile Security users can also utilize the ‘Call Blocking’ feature to blacklist such numbers and prevent them from reaching the device.