Phishing is when scammers use emails, websites or even phone calls to steal information, identities or money. We will give you some examples of phishing scams and let you know how to identify them. When you know how to identify phishing scams, then it’s easy to avoid falling for them.
Email phishing scam
Here’s one example of a phishing email scam. This scam came straight into our inbox and they claim to be a bank officer. In other versions of this scam, they claim to be a prince. Another common version has them claiming to be a lawyer acting as executor of a will for a long-lost relative of yours. They’re asking for your name, address, bank information, marital status and a copy of your ID. There is no legitimate reason to ever send this kind of information through email.
In this scam, they will use words like urgent or immediate or give you a short time frame to respond. Usually, the grammar or spelling is poor. There are many other things you will find that seem out-of-place. Like in this email, they try to make it look official and then use a free gmail.com email address. Please don’t fall for this.
If you are able to install spam filters on your email that will help a lot. Spam is a slang term for junk email. Having a spam filter in place will not only remove the phishing scams but will also keep other junk emails out too.
Phone call phishing scam
There are many variations of this scam, but they all start with a phone call. In one very common form of the scam, the scammer will say that you owe money to some government agency like the IRS, the police, etc. They will say that you need to buy gift cards to pay the debt. There is no government agency that will do collections like this. If you get a call like this, report it to the police.
Another phone call scam will prey on your love of your family. They will say that a family member has gotten in trouble and you need to buy gift cards to get them out of trouble. For example, they will say your grandson or nephew is in jail. To get them out you have to buy thousands of dollars worth of gift cards and call them back with the gift card numbers and PIN codes. They find the names of family members on social media so it sounds believable. Don’t fall for it. If you get a call like this, report it to the police.
There are several more variations of this scam. It’s such a problem that our local grocery store posted signs to warn anyone buying gift cards. Just know that there is no government group or debt collector that will call and ask for payment by gift cards.
With tax season approaching, there will be many tax-specific scams. If your job gives you access to employees’ W-2 forms, be on the lookout! Last year the IRS reported that 200 employers were victims of phishing scams.
Website phishing scams
These scams try to trick you into installing some kind of malware or giving up a password. Sometimes there’s a pop-up window that says you have a virus and it asks you if you want to clean it. When you click Yes it installs malware or a virus. Another way this will work is prompting you to enter your password. Be careful where you click and where you type your password. Many antivirus programs have features that will help combat these scams. Finally, using good passwords will also help.