What's Phishing and How Can You Avoid Getting Hooked?
Phishing is essentially a con game, and phishers are nothing more than tech-savvy con artists and identity thieves. They use spam, fake websites, emails, phone calls and instant messages to trick people into divulging sensitive information like passwords or account numbers.
These phishing scams are designed to appear as if they come from reliable sources, like your bank, utility company, even a friend or family member. It’s smart to know the difference between real and fraudulent messages and how to spot a scam.
Here are common ways you could be hooked:
Fraudulent Emails & Websites
An email phishing scam appears to be from a person or company known to the victim. A phishing email typically includes a link to a fraudulent website designed to look like the site of a legitimate company the victim might do business with. The email asks the recipient to go to the fake site and provide information that could later be used to steal a victim’s identity or take over their account.
- Tip: Don’t click any links or download attachments in suspicious emails, and look for telltale signs like poor spelling or grammar.
- Tip: Hover your mouse over the link without clicking to see the full URL. Examine the URL closely for typos or suspicious characters.
- Tip: Type the company’s website directly into the URL bar or call the company’s customer service to see if the email is legitimate.
The scam is so prevalent, that the IRS keeps it on their annual list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams, cold calls are the phone scam equivalent of email phishing. The caller will attempt to trick, scare, or otherwise coerce victims into providing personal or financial information. These types of scams often feature aggressive callers who will threaten the victim, telling them they’ve been caught committing a crime or that they owe money to a government agency.
- Tip: Never give sensitive personal or financial information over the phone without verifying the caller is legitimate. Hang up, look for the number of the company or agency on their website, never using the number the caller provided, and then call them directly.
Tech Support Calls
When a scammer calls a potential victim claiming to be from a reputable security company and says they found malware on the victim’s computer, that’s a tech support call scam.
The scammer may offer a solution that requires the victim to install remote access software so they view the victim’s desktop and “fix” the problem. In reality, the scammer may be attempting to install malware or solving issues that never really existed in order to charge a fee.
- Tip: If a person calls claiming to work for a specific company, look up the phone number and then call them back. Never allow remote access to your computer.
What should you do if you think you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam:
- Change your passwords. Your computer, financial institutions, your Norton Account, and any other password-protected websites that you visit should be updated.
- Run a Full System Scan for viruses on your computer.
- Contact your bank to report that you may have been the victim of fraud.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
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Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.
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