Watch Out for These New Phishing Scams

Written by , July 21, 2011

Watch Out for These New Phishing ScamsPhishing scams have been around nearly as long as the World Wide Web, and they’re still going strong. Scammers are constantly coming up with new ploys to get our personal information, including website passwords, Social Security Numbers, bank account information and more. This helps them commit a variety of criminal acts, such as hacking, bank fraud and identity theft.

There are many different types of phishing scams, but there are certain rules that can help protect you from most of them. First, if you receive an email purportedly from a bank or other entity with which you do business asking for sensitive information, avoid replying to the email or clicking on any links. Instead, use contact information from your statement or other official source to get in touch with them. Also avoid opening any attachments from unknown sources, as they could contain viruses or spyware that will expose your personal information.

Here are some of the most common phishing scams to look out for:

  • The Nigerian or 419 scam. This phishing technique has been around longer than the internet itself, but it is still used on occasion. It usually involves an email claiming to be from a well-to-do individual who needs to get a large sum of money out of their country. The recipient is promised a share if he or she assists. The catch is that he must send an advance fee in order to initiate the transfer, and/or provide his bank account information. Variations on this scam include fake lottery winning notifications and job offers that ask for similar information, but the intent is the same: to deprive victims of their money, their identity, or both.
  • Mass email phishing. Most phishing attacks are of this variety. Emails are sent to hundreds or thousands of recipients, usually claiming to be from a financial institution or government entity and asking for personal information. Many have spelling and grammatical errors that send up a red flag. But some look very legitimate, using corporate logos and leading victims to exact replicas of the bank or other entity’s website.
  • Spear phishing. This type of phishing attack is targeted to employees of a specific company or group, and often includes information about organizational events and issues. These tend to be very convincing, so when the message encourages the reader to open an attachment or enter their username and password, many do not give it a second thought.
  • Voice phishing. Some scammers install spyware on victims’ computers to see which websites they frequent. They then send an email from such a website (usually an online banking site) advising them to call a telephone number to verify their account information or the account will be closed. Of course, this phone number actually belongs to the scammer, and any information you provide if you call it will go to him.
  • Phishing scams can cost victims lots of money and time before they get things straightened out. And their perpetrators excel at evading the authorities. They may get shut down, but in most cases they can easily set up shop on different servers with a new scam. It’s up to us to know the signs of a phishing scam and avoid giving out sensitive information to unknown parties.

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