Watch out for phone scams

Bank card pulled from a mobile phone screen by a hook.

Many scams are currently being attempted via phone calls that look as if they come from the University’s mobile phone number series. You need to be extra alert as it is difficult to stop these attempts by technical means. Photo: Getty Images.

There are a lot of phone scams going on right now. Scammers are phoning from numbers that look as if they belong to the University’s mobile phone number series and attempting to trick victims into revealing their bank codes or passwords.

In the current wave of phone scams that have been reported to the Security and Safety Division, you hear a voice saying in English that they are from the police. The voice may claim, for example, that your bank card has been used and then give you a number of options to choose between.

Be aware that the Swedish Police would never contact you with an automated voice in English.

Of course, scammers may claim to be calling from someone other than the Swedish Police. Attempted scams occur, for example, in which they claim to be calling from a bank or a public authority.

These phone scams are a variant of phishing known as vishing (voice phishing). The scammers generally aim to obtain your codes or passwords in order to access your bank accounts or information.

The scammers use Voice over Internet Protocol and other technology to quickly and easily create fake or hidden phone numbers that are difficult to trace.

Difficult to stop

As the fake phone numbers are difficult to trace, unfortunately these phone scams are hard for the University’s security staff to prevent by technical means.

“We can’t block phone numbers because they are fake and when people receive calls we don’t know which server somewhere in the world is being used in the attack,” says Veronika Berglund, Head of the Information Security Department at the University Administration.

Be on your guard

As it is difficult to prevent phone scams by technical means, it is even more important for everyone to be alert and suspicious.

The first thing you should do when the phone rings is to check the number presentation. If a member of staff at the University calls from their work mobile phone, the number displayed to the person receiving the call is the extension number, not the mobile phone number. In the cases of phone scams reported to the Security and Safety Division, a fake mobile phone number has so far been displayed that looks as if it belongs to the University’s mobile phone number series.

“You can therefore see clearly that it’s a scamming call if it looks like one of our mobile phone numbers, as it’s the extension number that should be displayed, not the mobile phone number,” Berglund explains.

But it's probably only a matter of time before the scammers learn this too and instead show an extension number in the number presentation. Therefore, you need to think twice whenever you have a call with someone you don't immediately recognise by voice.

If you suspect a phone scam, you should hang up and report it immediately to

Anders Berndt

Tips from the Swedish Police

The Swedish Police have a web page on phone scams with advice for protecting yourself against scams. Here are some of their tips:

Hang up

If someone calls you and you’re unsure who’s calling, just hang up. Fraudsters often claim to be a relative, or from your bank, a company or an authority.

Prepare something to say to end the call quickly, or simply hang up. You don’t need to be polite.

Don’t log in

Never identify yourself with your bank eID or share codes from a bank token or payment card at someone else’s request.

Respectable companies, organisations and authorities would never contact you and ask you to log in or share personal data this way.

Don’t trust the caller

The fraudster may try to make you anxious by saying that you’re about to lose money or that a relative is in trouble.

Don’t trust the caller even if they seem believable and have personal information about you.

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