RIYADH: The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority has issued a warning for consumers to reject telephone calls from people seeking their personal or bank details, known as “voice phishing or vishing,” which is aimed at data misuse or stealing money from their accounts.
The SDAIA reportedly issued the advisory earlier this week because of growing reports of criminals posing as staffers from the National Information Center who had asked people for their pin numbers and passwords, ostensibly to update their bank information.
“Due to the fact that the NIC does not contact beneficiaries, the SDAIA calls on the public to preserve the confidentiality of their personal information and (adhere) to the relevant regulations and policies issued by the national data administration office at the authority,” said the regulatory body in a statement.
Dr. Osama Ghanem Alobaidy, an advisor and professor of law at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, told Arab News the SDAIA warning was as a move in the “right direction. These are traps by organized gangs and criminal groups aiming to steal the public’s personal and financial information with the intent of causing them harm, including data misuse and draining their hard-earned money from their bank account(s).”
He said Saudi Arabia has promulgated the Personal Data Protection Law to provide protection for individuals. Offenders can face prison of up to two years and a fine not exceeding SR3 million.
Muhammad Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Scams through the telephone, technically known as voice phishing or vishing, are very commonly used by fraudsters to trick people into giving money or sharing their personal information. Recently, scammers are using vishing as an easy tactic by pretending to be a trustworthy organization or government agency.”
“Unfortunately, many people are becoming victims and mistakenly sharing their confidential data and personal information, which could later be misused by criminals for fraud, blackmailing, etcetera,” said Khan. “People should be cautious, as any government department will never ask for confidential information over the phone, such as … ID number, password, or personal data.”
“It’s crucial to understand that the most vulnerable people are more likely to be contacted by scammers, and their chances of being robbed are also higher. The best way to safeguard users from such scams is for governments and private organizations to raise awareness and build reporting mechanisms,” he added.