E-mail phishing scams are common place in todays society. And phishing artists are quite clever in finding new ways to scam you out of your money, or your identity.
Phishing is defined as “an attempt by an individual or group to solicit personal information from unsuspecting users by employing social engineering techniques” by the US-CERT. The emails appear to be from a legitimate business (frequently a financial institution) and will require the receiver to reply (or click to a website) and give personal information (account information, social security info, address, date of birth) that can be used to hack an account or steal an identity.
I get at least 1 a week. Some are quite obvious, like the example below (there’s a problem with my account at a bank I don’t use). Others are not, like one I got from Amazon that looked just like their legitimate emails after you place an order, luckily I hadn’t ordered anything so I checked the return address and saw it wasn’t from Amazon. Sometimes
The biggest thing you can do to protect yourself is to hover your curser over the email address of the sender, and look at the address. Does the sender claim to be from USBank but have an ‘@comcast.net’ email address? If so, they are not legit and need to be reported. To report the email, forward the email to: firstname.lastname@example.org after you’ve done that delete the email.
If it isn’t as obvious as the above example, but you still aren’t sure whether or not the sender is legitimate, there are several things you can still do to protect yourself:
- Never give out personal information via email unless you are 100% sure of the legitimacy of the recipient.
- Never click on (or copy/paste) the link that is in the email. Go directly to the business site.
- Don’t download anything from questionable emails. They can be riddled with viruses.
- Contact a customer service representative at the sending business and ask if there are any issues with your account.
- Don’t let verbiage such as “needs urgent attention” “claim your prize now” “limited time offer” scare you into giving out your information. Never give out personal information if you have any doubts what-so-ever about the legitimacy of an email!!
Don’t be another victim of fraud or identity theft. Take these simple steps to protect yourself.
Be Aware. Pay Attention. Stay Safe.