The 411 on Phishing
Phishing scams are pretty common. If you’ve ever checked your email’s spam folder, they’re there. If you’ve ever gotten a weird text message offering you a free iPad, this is phishing. If you’ve ever gotten a call about your car’s warranty, yep, that too. This fraud technique isn’t new BUT it’s becoming harder every day to tell what is real and what isn’t.
What is it
Phishing is the practice of sending emails, text messages, and phone calls pretending to be from a reputable source in order to commit fraud. This can include convincing someone to reveal personal information, credit card numbers, and passwords. The goal is to deceive the recipient into believing the message is something they should care about. These are things that you either want or need. A request from your bank can be anxiety-inducing, so of course, you will take action immediately. But fraudsters have gotten very good at imitating your bank, credit card, boss, cell phone company, internet provider, utility company, etc.
How does it work
Phishing messages use fear, curiosity, and greed to get people to click links and open attachments. The fraudsters are continually testing new versions and refining their attacks to lure in the most people.
Look out for the following things when you receive messages from known and unknown people and organizations:
- What the message is offering is too good to be true.
- There is a strange sense of urgency.
- You must click on a hyperlink or open an attachment to complete a task.
- The email includes or leads you to a data entry form.
- Look out for unusual senders or strange emails from known senders.
What you can do
Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know. Don’t click on links from people you don’t know. If you receive an email, text, or call from an organization you do work with, but they ask you to provide credentials or personal information to access information, go to the website directly and log in to your account. If you’re really not sure, contact customer support. Many organizations either know that phishing emails involving them are circulating or need to be notified immediately if this is happening.