The term phishing describes identity theft scams involving scam websites and emails or other messages. The goal of online phishing scams is to gain access to your account and sensitive information. An attacker can create their own website that mimics a reputable one or send you a message that seems to come from a trusted source. Online phishing scams messages can come from a fake account or an account that has been hacked.
What is Phishing?
Online phishing scams involve sending an e-mail falsely claiming to be from an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that they will use for identity theft.
The e-mail directs the user to visit a website where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit cards, social security numbers, and bank account numbers. It is relatively simple to make a Website look legitimate by mimicking the page's HTML code or framing parts.
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What Online Phishing Scams do?
Many people fall victim to email scams designed to steal log-in information for PayPal, eBay, online banking accounts, and more. Scammers send emails to every address they can obtain, so you may receive these even if you don't have an account with the targeted enterprise, site, or company.
The online phishing scams' emails keep getting better and better in appearance. You may receive an email that pretends to be sent from eBay. The email will have all the appropriate logos and will often be formatted in the same way. The links within the email can even appear to be directed to legitimate pages within eBay.
For example, e-mails supposedly from eBay claiming that the user's account will be suspended unless they click on the provided link and update the credit card information.
How to Avoid Online Phishing Scams?
Recently I received an email claiming to be from PayPal. It appears to be a receipt for an eBay purchase that I know nothing about. The subject line is “Receipt for Your Payment.”
The email body included a description of the eBay item allegedly purchased using my PayPal account. Below that was a notice that said:
I wonder how many people receiving a similar email would quickly click on the link to contest the charges to become victims of online phishing scams.
OK, I know to be cautious with this sort of thing, so I did not click anything in that email. Instead, I went to PayPal on my own and logged in. Guess what? There is no record there of the purchase!
Then I started looking at the formatting of the email. When I viewed the message's properties, I found it was from a tak___club.com sender and not PayPal. Just because it says that it is from eBay and ebay.com at the top of the email doesn't always mean who it is from. Anyone can easily alter the “From” name in an email to rectify online phishing scams.
This email was formatted more like a received PayPal email than an actual receipt. I looked at all of my other emails titled “Receipt for your payment,” and not one of the others was formatted like this one.
Why you Have to be Careful With Online Phishing Scams?
Other scams involving PayPal usually involve messages about unauthorized access attempts in online phishing scams. The sender will tell you that someone has tried to get into your account. As a result, your account is in danger of being “frozen.” However, if you click the link in the email (You are told), you will be able to enter your password to avoid your account's loss. Naturally, those unfortunate enough to give their log-in information will have given it to strangers.
Remember that this is not limited to PayPal. Users of Storm Pay, e-gold, eBay, and more will see similar emails.Protect Your Accounts from Online Phishing Scams
Watch out for online phishing scams designed to trick you into submitting information (like passwords) to allow the sender to access your account. Whenever you receive any suspicious messages, go to your account via a new browser and type in the URL. Never click a link in an email that will take you to your PayPal account. If you make that the rule, your account information (and funds!) will be much safer.
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If You Receive a Suspicious Email:
Do not reply, even if you recognize the sender as a well-known business or financial institution. If you have an account with this institution, contact them directly and verify the email's information to avoid online phishing scams.
Do not click any links provided in these emails (or cut and paste them into a browser). This may download viruses to your computer, or at best, confirm your email address to phishers.
Do not open any attachments. If you receive an attachment you are not expecting, confirm that they sent the message and meant to send an attachment.
Do not enter your personal information or passwords on an untrusted Website or form referenced in the email.
How to Report Phishing?
If you got a phishing email or text message, report it. The information you give can help fight online phishing scams. If you believe that you have provided sensitive financial information about yourself or any accounts through a phishing scam, you should:
- Contact your financial institution or account immediately
- Contact the three major credit bureaus and request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report.
Step 1. If you got a phishing email, forward it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at email@example.com. If you got a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).
Step 2. Report the phishing attack to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
FAQs About How to Protect Your Accounts from Online Phishing Scams
What is a phishing kit?
The availability of phishing kits makes it simple for cybercriminals to launch phishing campaigns, even if they have only basic technical skills. A phishing kit is a collection of phishing website resources and tools that only require server installation.
Why does phishing increase during a crisis?
Criminals rely on deception and create a sense of urgency to succeed with their phishing campaigns. Crises such as the coronavirus pandemic give those criminals a significant opportunity to lure victims into taking their phishing bait.
What is spear phishing?
When attackers try to craft a message to appeal to a specific individual, that's called spear phishing. In simple words, the image is of a fisherman aiming for one specific fish, rather than just casting a baited hook in the water to see who bites.
Final Words – Proceed With Caution
Phishing text messages and emails have evolved into a dangerous, yet unavoidable, threat in the modern era of the internet. To protect yourself, it is best to err on the side of caution and delete any emails or texts that appear suspicious. You should never forget that a legitimate organization or business will never ask you to share sensitive or personal information through insecure channels such as email, text, or pop-up messages. The sender will likely attempt to contact you via a verified telephone or snail mail if the message is crucial.
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