Phishing is an attempt to get people to divulge sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, passwords, usernames, or to transfer money to the scammer through a variety of methods. It is usually done through email but more and more through texts as well. The best way to avoid phishing scams is by being able to spot them. Here are some tips to help you spot a phishing scam:
- Uses a generic address rather than your name, i.e. an email looks like it is fro you mortgage company that begins with “Dear account holder”, instead of addressing you by your name;
- Says there is an urgent need for you to take an action, i.e., the email appears to be from your credit card company telling you your account will be frozen unless you click a link in that email and complete a form;
- Contains subtle or express threats, i.e. “Confirm you user credentials immediately or your account will be permanently frozen”;
- Has a suspicious sender email address, i.e. a personal email address in the sender line of an email claiming to be from your bank;
- Has a wrong recipient address, i.e. Has one of your email addresses but not the email address you gave to the company the scammer is pretending to be;
- Contains URLs that do not go where they say the will go, i.e., Scammer embeds hyperlinks into an email that will take you to a fake site;
- Includes poor grammar or spelling errors, i.e. may indicate the email does not come from a legitimate source;
- Uses a web address that is not quite right, i.e.Scammers use mimic websites from known companies but changes a letter or word so it closely resembles a legitimate address.
- Includes attachments, i.e. a legitimate financial institution or company will not send account information as an attachment. Beware of attachment because opening a suspect attachment could allow malicious software to download on your computer;
- Requests or demands information the “sender” should already have, i.e. your bank should already have your account number so you should not need to verify it.
Contact Pine Street Legal if you need help identifying a Phishing Scam or if you have been a victim of one.