What Is Phishing Scam? and How to Prevent It?

Phishing Definition

A phishing scam is a type of cyber-attack in which scammers send disguised emails to individuals or companies to obtain sensitive information. The goal is to trick the recipient with legitimate-looking messages from an authentic sender. The main target is to obtain sensitive information such as banking credentials, credit card numbers, passwords, crypto wallet details, cash advances, and other valuable information.

How Does Phishing Work?

Most commonly, phishers target people via email but sometimes they make contact by text messages, phone calls, or social media platforms.

They ask the target to provide or confirm personal information. For instance, the scammer may pretend to be part of a bank or organization and ask to verify customer records. They may also ask to participate in a customer survey to win a prize.

Alternatively, the phisher may send alert emails such as “your account has experienced a suspicious activity”. They might say that your card was debited for a large amount of money in a foreign country and if you have not authorized the payment then confirm your credit card or bank details for investigation. Sometimes, they already have the card number and ask the target to confirm the security code printed on the card.

phishing scams

Scam email from a hacker (Source: USA Today)

The whole purpose of phishing is to look genuine, so the scammers copy the authentic format of the organizations to show legitimacy, including the branding. The scammer will direct you to a fake website that will look real but with a slight difference in the address. For example, the legitimate web address is www.apple.com, the phisher may use www.apple.net.

If by any chance you provide your details to a scammer through an email or by phone, they will use your details to carry out fraudulent activities and use your credentials to steal money.

Types of Phishing

There are various types of techniques that fall under the umbrella of a phishing scam, such as:

Spear Phishing

In spear phishing, attackers target specific individuals using spoofed email addresses to send messages pretending to be a co-worker. Phishers obtain target information through social media sites like LinkedIn.

Whaling

Whaling is commonly referred to as whale phishing that targets high-value individuals such as CEOs, or MDs. The main objective is to scam people who have a great deal of authority in the company.

Pharming

In pharming, scammers redirect the target to a fake version of the website. The computers are infected with malware that directs the users to the fake website even if you type in the real web address.

Common Signs of a Phishing Email

  • Misspelled words or grammatical errors on the website content, URLs, and email address.
  • Requests to provide personal information, payment details, or other credentials.
  • Emails asking for urgent action, such as immediate payment transfer.
  • Emails with suspicious attachments in the form of survey forms, pdf files, images, etc.

How to Prevent Phishing Scams

Following these simple steps can help to prevent you from being scammed:

  • Before clicking or providing information on a link, always check the spelling of the web address or URLs.
  • If you receive a suspicious email pretending to be from someone you know, do not reply to that email, and contact the source directly with a new email
  • Avoid posting your personal details such as birthdays, phone numbers, emails, etc. publicly on social media.
  • When asked to be redirected to a website, check the URL for any errors in the name or spellings.
  • Do not provide information that is sensitive, such as bank details, credentials, passport, and ID numbers over the email.
  • In case of fake email discovery, report it to the legitimate bank or organization immediately.
  • Refrain from downloading any attachments or click on links from emails claiming to be your bank or other service provider company.
  • Check for scam reference by searching on the internet by using exact words or content of the email
  • Check the secure symbols in the URL such as “HTTPS” at the start of the web address, closed padlock icon, or unbroken key icon at the bottom right corner of the web browser.

Want to learn more about scams? Read >> 2020’s worst cryptocurrency data breaches, thefts, and exit scams

Have You Been Scammed?

If you or someone you know has been exposed to a phishing scam, and if a scammer was successful in obtaining access to your personal details, contact your bank or report to an authority immediately. We also provide consultation on protecting yourself from scams, so contact our team for further queries.

Note:

We have a team of professionals who investigate the fraud cases thoroughly and provides detailed analysis with documents necessary to report a scam or fraud to higher authorities. We aim to evaluate each case with full attention and resolve them in a manner that the victim gets closure as soon as possible. 

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