Online scams are happening at an alarming rate.
I was taking a look at an article on Statista’s scam research and I was shocked at how much worse things have gotten since 2019.
But of all the statistics, one of them surprised me more than anything. And it’s how dangerous phishing scams have become. In fact, more than 50% of all cyber crime is through phishing attacks.
It’s surprising to me because phishing is not new. In fact, it’s been around since the beginning of the internet.
Phishing emails are fake emails designed to look like legitimate messages from a reputable source. A lot of the time the scammers might imitate a bank, company, or in more direct attacks someone that you know (this form is known as spear phishing). They do this by disguising their “from name” and creating a very similar email address to other companies. For example, a scammer might use [email protected] or [email protected] to imitate a large company.
The goal of a phishing email is to get you to download an attachment or click on a link leading to a fake website. Phishing emails are usually filled with Malware. Just by clicking on the wrong link or attachment, hackers can gain access to your information. They can use it for fraudulent activities such as stealing your identity, draining your financial accounts, or damaging your reputation.
So, how can you protect yourself from phishing emails or texts?
First off, always check who is sending the email. I’m not just talking about the from name, but also the actual email address. If you are unsure if the email is real, you can always check the official website of the company that it’s imitating to see if the email address matches up. (Make sure you keep an eye out for O’s or 0 as well as I’s and l’s as they look similar).
Second, make sure you hover over any links in the email. When you hover over a link, a little pop up will indicate what URL it is taking you to. If the link looks suspicious, don’t click it.
Third, be really careful of any attachments you download. As I mentioned they can contain really powerful malware and be completely hidden. If you don’t trust the sender or you think it could be a fake email address… DO NOT OPEN IT.
Finally, be careful of urgent or threatening language in the email. Scammers will always try to put pressure on you so you act out of emotion. If you really are concerned and you are not sure it is a real email, contact the people that the email is representing. BUT do not reply to the email you were sent. For example, if your bank emails you with a fraud warning, don’t respond. Instead, go to your bank’s official website, then find their customer service phone number or email.
Use that to confirm whether the email was real or not.
Always keep an eye out, because phishers try to sneak past your radar, and clearly it work.
I hope this helps!
Thank you and stay safe!