Why is Phishing Dangerous?

Scammers use phishing to steal informationPhishing is the act of gaining your trust by acting as a representative of a reputable organization. Scammers might pose as someone who works for a software company like Apple, a government agency like the Social Security Administration, or a lawyer from a prestigious law firm. They send electronic communication such as email, website links or text messages. The goal is to get a response so that they can access personal information such as passwords, usernames, credit card information so that they can access your accounts.

Fake Websites

The fraudsters often send email or an instant message directing its target to a website. The website appears legitimate, but is designed to gain access to information. It may also infect your system with spyware, malware or a Trojan virus. Consumers may not be able to tell one of these websites from the real thing, however, the website address is usually misspelled. For example, you may think that you are being directed to www.ticketmaster.com, when in fact the address is www.ticketnaster.com. The scammers take the information and charge your account. The funds are rarely, if ever, returned. Hopefully your bank or credit card company will not hold you liable for the charge.

Text Messages

Vishing is making contact through phone contact, such as a phone call or text message. Text messages can be deceiving, and it doesn’t seem that any harm can come from clicking a link to a website to claim a prize or sign up for a shopping service. The website engineers can cleverly attach to your phone, gaining personal information including email addresses, phone contacts, and payment details. If you receive a text message from an unknown person, do not click the link or reply; delete it immediately. You can use a reverse phone search to look up the number that sent the message. You are able to block the number from your phone to prevent further contact. If you suspect that your phone has been hacked, contact your service provider. You can also report the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Safety Tips

There are several phone safety tips you can use to protect your information from hackers. The best way is to password protect any sensitive information on your phone or computer. You should be protective of phone numbers, payment information, bank account numbers, passwords, etc.

Update Software

It’s important to ensure that your spyware, malware, and antivirus software is up to date. Hackers find new ways every day to infiltrate systems and the software is the best way to block them.

Links and Attachments

Do not click on links or open attachments from an unknown source. If you suspect it might be legit, contact the sender before opening to ensure safety.

Too Good to be True?

Lastly, you may receive communication claiming that you’ve won an exotic vacation, iPhone, lottery or other lavish gift. These communications are almost always a scam. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Pamela M