The holiday season is a time of joy, family, and giving. Unfortunately, it is also a time when many people fall victim to phishing scams. Below are some tips to help you avoid these attacks and steps to take if you have been a victim of a phishing attack.
What is Phishing?
The Federal Trade Commission defines phishing as “a scam where criminals send out mass emails that appear to come from a legitimate business or organization you know and trust.” Some examples of businesses that might be impersonated include eBay, PayPal, your bank or credit card company, social networking sites, popular online retailers and even the IRS.
How Do They Work?
Phishing scams generally try to get you to act quickly by using scare tactics such as threatening account suspension or notifying you of an urgent problem with your account. They often ask you to click on links within the email that will direct you to a website controlled by scammers who will then ask for personal information including your Social Security number, credit card numbers and other sensitive information like your username and password for online services. In another variation called “pharming,” the criminal may attempt to direct traffic from an authentic website by compromising the DNS server used to look up Internet addresses which sends the unsuspecting user to a
What is Phishing?
Phishing is an attempt by cybercriminals to get sensitive information from you (like bank account or credit card information). The way they do this is typically by sending you a message that appears to be from a trusted source (like your bank or credit card company). These messages can take many forms, including:
SMS text messages (also known as smishing)
Pop-up windows on your computer
All of these methods are designed to trick you into handing over sensitive information or giving the attacker access to your computer. Once the criminals have this access, they can use it for all kinds of malicious activity, like stealing money from your accounts, opening new accounts in your name, taking out loans and committing identity theft.
How to Avoid Phishing Scams:
There are several ways that you can avoid falling prey to phishing scams. Here are some tips.
1. Be skeptical about unsolicited communication: If you receive a phone call, email message or text message that asks for personal information, don’t reply. Even if the communication includes convincing logos and language that appears legitimate, it could still be a ploy by cybercriminals to trick you into sharing valuable personal information. A good rule
According to the 2016 State of Phishing Report, nearly two-thirds of all phishing scams involve ransomware. Phishing scams are a type of malware used by cybercriminals to illegally gain access to your computer or mobile device. The hackers will send you an email or text message with a link that takes you to a fake site that appears legitimate.
Once on the fake site, you will be asked to enter personal information like your username and password for your bank, credit card or other accounts. In some cases, simply clicking the link in the email may be enough for hackers to infect your computer with malware.
Phishing scams can also involve phone calls or text messages from people posing as a tax collector, utility company representative or employee of another organization asking for personal information. One common example is someone calling saying they are from “Microsoft” claiming your computer has a virus and they need your credit card number in order to fix it.
Phishing scams are when a cybercriminal sends you an email that pretends to be from a trusted source, such as your bank. The purpose of the email is to get you to click on a link to “verify” your account information or “update your password.”
If you click the link and enter your account information (username, password, or credit card information) on the site that appears, you have just been phished. This allows cybercriminals to steal from your accounts or sell the stolen data on the dark web.
Some phishing emails are easy to spot, but others can be quite sophisticated. It isn’t always obvious that an email is fake.
The good news is there are steps you can take to protect yourself from phishing scams and other cyber threats:
1. Know who you’re dealing with: If you weren’t expecting an email from someone (for example, a bank), it’s probably a scam. Don’t trust any emails that ask for sensitive information (usernames, passwords, credit card numbers). Also check the URL of any links in an email before clicking them — if they don’t look right, don’t click them!
2. Never open attachments unless you know what
Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication channels. Phishing messages may seek personal information from you, such as your Apple ID and password, bank account information, credit card details, passport or driver’s licence numbers, or other sensitive information.
Phishing messages can appear to come from a company you know and trust, such as Apple. They may ask you to enter your account details on a fraudulent website that looks like the real thing.
If you receive suspicious emails or phone calls purporting to be from Apple, do not reply to them, click any links in them, or open attachments they might contain. If you believe that an email may be legitimate — for example, one containing an invoice — rather than replying directly to it, contact the company using contact details that you’ve independently verified. You can also report phishing scam emails to Apple at [email protected].
The IRS, along with the Security Summit partners, is providing this new information to help taxpayers avoid some of the most common types of phishing and online scams. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
The IRS also does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email about a bill or tax refund. This includes notices of a bill due through an online account accessed through IRS.gov, such as where tax payments are made electronically.
If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to email@example.com.
If you have received an unsolicited email that claims to be from the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as EFTPS:
Forward the entire email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.
After forwarding your email, delete it from your inbox; do not simply archive or move it to a folder in your email account.
Do not open attachments or click on any
KEEP YOUR COMPUTER UPDATED
Install operating system updates as soon as possible to fix known security holes.
KEEP ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE UP TO DATE
Keep anti-virus software and firewall up to date. Your anti-virus software should check for updates at least once a week.
USE A POP-UP BLOCKER
Use anti-virus software with a pop-up blocker. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for turning on this feature.
IGNORE SPAM EMAILS & DON’T CLICK ON LINKS IN THEM
Do not reply to spam email, even if the email asks you to click a link to unsubscribe from a mailing list. Delete the spam email immediately.
BE SUSPICIOUS OF UNSOLICITED PHONE CALLS, VISITS, OR EMAIL MESSAGES FROM INDIVIDUALS ASKING ABOUT EMPLOYEES OR OTHER INTERNAL INFORMATION. IF AN UNKNOWN INDIVIDUAL CLAIMS TO BE FROM A LEGITIMATE ORGANIZATION, TRY TO VERIFY THE PERSON’S IDENTITY DIRECTLY WITH THE COMPANY.
DO NOT PROVIDE PERSONAL OR FIN