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Unknown missed calls good for Vanuatu, but not you

Terry Cutler Cyber security expert ethical hacker
Terry Cutler Cyber security expert ethical hacker

The tiny carefree island-nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific Ocean was once known as the happiest place on the planet, thanks to a 2006 Happy Planet Index vote. Before then the island, with a small population of 265,000, was known for being the gracious host for 15 episodes of the reality show Survivor. These days Vanuatu isn’t making anyone happy, well, perhaps the people behind the recent Vanuatu Scam telephone calls, but certainly not anyone receiving these calls. If you receive a call from +678 559 4636 Vanuatu, don’t answer it, and don’t call back. You’re not alone. Unsuspecting Smartphone users in North America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and other countries are also receiving these calls, and losing money.

Here’s how it works. You receive a phone call and once you answer, they hang-up on you. Our first instinct is to say, “Who could this be?” and then we decide to call
the number back. Once you do that, you’re calling a premium phone number and can be charged almost $10 USD per minute. An individual may even answer and
prolong the conversation under some pretext, but the curious caller gets charged a large amount for the call. The phone companies can’t do anything about it because that would mean blocking all calls coming from Vanuatu.

A useful rule is to never answer a call that you don’t recognize. It stands to reason that the number of people who have family in Vanuatu is next to none, and Vanuatu doesn’t boast about their tourism industry, so it is unlikely we may know someone vacationing on the island. If you have received the call, and answered it, or, called it back, be sure to check your phone bill. Sharing is a great thing. Please pass this information on to your contacts to ensure they’re aware of the Vanuatu Scam.

If you would like to learn more about how to protect yourself from scams and hackers be sure to subscribe to Internet Safety University at www.TerryCutler.com where we provide timely updates on these types of threats. Terry Cutler is the creator of the family-based Internet Safety University, and a government cleared cybersecurity expert (a Certified Ethical Hacker). He was awarded the 2017 Cybersecurity Educator of the Year award: the Cybersecurity Excellence awards recognize companies, products and individuals that demonstrate excellence, innovation and leadership in information security.

Terryble Tymes  is a column posted in The Mainstreet Newspaper www.themainstreet.org, the Laurentians’ only English speaking newspaper since 2001.

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