When it comes to online scamming, phishing is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Despite being widely utilized by cybercriminals for nearly two decades, phishing remains one of their favorite tools of the trade. Phishing, which can take on a number of forms, entails tricking targets into turning over sensitive personal data and financial information. The results of falling prey to a phishing scam range from mild financial setbacks to outright identity theft, so it behooves every internet user to be on guard for such schemes. To maintain your online safety and keep your personal information out of the wrong hands, keep an eye out for the following phishing scams.
1.Fake Promotional Offers
Fraudulent promotional offers are among the oldest and most effective phishing scams. As the name implies, this particular scheme involves targets receiving emails, texts or social media messages that claim they’re eligible to receive an assortment of promotional offers. The exact nature of these offers varies, but many of them involve free or heavily discounted merchandise from popular retailers. Upon clicking an attached link, you’ll be taken to a legitimate-looking website, where you’ll be asked to create an account, which entails providing personal details and creating a password. Once the phishers have this information, they’ll often use it to break into your various online accounts and make off with even more information. Since a sizable chunk of internet users use the same password for most (or all) of their accounts, this scheme has a relatively high rate of success.
Tricking people into thinking there are issues with assorted online accounts is another popular phishing scam. Targets will receive emails or text messages claiming that problems have been discovered with various bank, credit or online retailer accounts. Many of these messages make reference to PayPal, Amazon and eBay, though these are by no means the only accounts phishers target. In many cases, the nature of these problems is never specified, but some phishers will go the extra mile and make something up, with suspicious purchases being a common example. After clicking the attached link, you will be taken to a website designed to look like it’s associated with the company in question and asked to provide your username and password for that particular account. Fortunately, despite their technical prowess, many phishers are unable to write convincingly professional emails, so even if the fake sites look like the genuine article, the amateurish nature of the actual messages will hopefully make the scam obvious.
For many online scammers, malware and phishing are a match made in heaven. Phishers are particularly fond of spreading ransomware, a type of malware that hijacks devices and limits access to the web. When one of your devices is infected with ransomware, you’ll be greeted with ads and pop-up messages claiming that the device has contracted a virus. These messages purport that the only way to remove the virus is to purchase the anti-virus software they’re advertising. This scam is designed to get victims’ credit card numbers and/or bank account information, so if one of your devices ever falls victim to ransomware, ignore claims by made the aforementioned messages and avoid handing over any personal data. Website owners interesting in keeping ransomware and other malicious software off their sites can find answers in SiteLock reviews.
At a glance, spear phishing and traditional phishing are practically indistinguishable. However, there’s one important difference. Whereas traditional phishing targets large swaths of prospective victims, spear phishing hones in on specific individuals. Spear phishers put genuine time and effort into researching their targets and tailoring their schemes accordingly, making them harder to sniff out. These phishers tend to target individuals who work for companies they wish to steal information from. Although multinational corporations are generally their primary targets, many spear phishers aren’t opposed to going after small businesses and mid-sized companies as well.
Phishing has been around for almost as long as internet access has been commonplace. However, despite being old hat, it continues to be one of the most effective vehicles for information theft. Even people who think they’re too smart for online scams have been taken in by experienced phishers. That being the case, every internet user needs to exercise caution when navigating the worldwide web. As phishers and other online scammers continue to hone their methods and step up their game, the rest of us must respond in kind.