Better Business Bureau: Phishing Scams Are More Important Than Ever | Features / entertainment
BBB recommends that it is even more important for everyone to be aware of phishing scams. These can take the form of offers to win, impending penalties or even an SMS. Sometimes the sender relies on a victim’s curiosity to trigger a click or download of something dangerous. Other phishing formats may not have click-links, but instead have a phone call to inquire about an account or subscription.
Any unsolicited or unexpected communication asking for personal information or asking you to download an attachment is a red flag. Much of this news comes from scammers posing as trustworthy companies and organizations. They “phishing” for social security numbers, bank details, passwords, credit card details, or other personal information for use in identity theft. Don’t fall for the bait!
This is how the scam works
Scammers have a creative variety of cover stories to hide their real intentions. Phishing messages typically use one of three methods to deceive victims:
1. The message promises a reward (gift card, free item);
2. Faced with a fine (unpaid taxes, missed jury duty, disabled bank account);
3. Appears harmless (a file from the office scanner or a colleague).
Phishing scams usually follow a pattern. The victim receives an email, a phone call or a text message (so-called “smishing” or SMS phishing). The message prompts the target to click a link, exchange information, call a phone number, or download an attachment that is likely to contain malware. In the case of an email or SMS, the link often leads to a form that asks the target to enter personal information.
Think twice before downloading anything from the Internet, especially if it’s an attachment from an anonymous sender. Scammers hide malware in an attachment and after it has been downloaded; it can vandalize your personal device or steal your personal information. If you are online at home, the scammer can also steal the IP address and then connect to another device that is connected to your home WiFi.
Tips to avoid this scam
- If something sounds suspicious, give the company a direct call or check the company website directly. Don’t click links in an unexpected email – type the company’s URL in the browser or do a web search to find the right website.
- Don’t click, load, or open anything from an anonymous sender. This is likely an attempt to access your personal information or install malware on your computer.
- Question general emails. Scammers cast a wide web by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Always be careful of unsolicited messages that do not contain your name, the last few digits of your bank account number, or other personal information.
Related: Some phishing scams specifically target CEOs and other executives in order to get company information or personal data of everyone in a company. Visit bbb.org/scamstudies to read BBB’s Business Email Compromise (BEC) Fraud Study.
For more informations
If you’ve discovered a scam (whether you’ve lost money or not), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Reporting it can help others avoid falling victim to scammers. Learn how to protect yourself by visiting BBB.org/avoidscams. For more information on phishing scams, please contact the Federal Trade Commission.
Better Business Bureau for the Region and Greater West Virginia Cantons provides tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices. Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to search for a company, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips, find events, and more.