What is Phishing?
Phishing is a risk for everyone. If you’re phished, you could lose money, important information, or passwords. Keep reading to find out what phishing is, some common scams, and how to avoid it.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a cyber crime. It is when a person is contacted by email, text message, or phone by someone pretending to be an institution. They often want bank or credit card details, passwords for important accounts, or personal information. For example, you could receive an email that says your PayPal account will be deleted if you don’t verify it immediately. Phishing can happen to anyone, but people with bank accounts, credit cards, passwords, and seniors are at higher risk.
Phishing, Spam, and Scams
Spam emails are unsolicited commercial emails. They’re sent to a large number of people and are trying to sell you something, like 1000 followers on social media. Sometimes spam emails can be fraudulent. Phishing includes email, text messages, and phone calls, and are always trying to steal your personal information.
Scams and spam are not the same thing. Scams are always malicious, while spam is more like junk mail.
Common Phishing Scams
An example is a fake email from your bank. These emails look almost identical to the ones that do come from your bank. They could request information from you and include a form or link. It might also include urgent language or saying you need to do something immediately.
You could receive a text message from an unknown number that says your Netflix (or a different) account will be deleted. It could include a link to verify your account. It will likely say you must verify it immediately or sometime very soon.
In another you could receive an email, text, or call from a friend or family member. They would say they’re in trouble and need assistance (money, plane tickets, etc.) immediately. These are usually targeted and scammers often already know personal information. They may have found this information on social media.
How to Avoid Being Phished
So, how can you avoid these scams? Check the things below when you’re contacted by a potential scammer.
- Check if it includes your name, rather than something generic like ‘Dear Customer’
- Carefully check the sender’s email address (it could be something like firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Don’t click on any links in the message. Instead, manually look the institution up in your search engine
- Hover your mouse over a link to see if it appears the same
- Check if there are any spelling or grammar mistakes
- Have a junk filter on your email
- Is the website well designed? Most professional businesses have sleek, professional websites
Overall, it’s important to avoid phishing. It can lead to lost passwords, identity theft, and the loss of your life’s savings. When you receive a text, email, or call asking for sensitive information or money, think carefully. If you’re still not sure, go to the institution or call them. If you’d like to learn more about phishing, check out phishing.org.