Most of us have heard about “Phishing”, but do you really know what it is? According to the “Oxford Dictionary”, it is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Phish•ing – pronounced /fishing/!
And like fishermen, these scammers are out there trying to hook you into giving them what they want … your financial information, your social security number, your passwords or your credit card numbers. First and foremost, reputable companies NEVER ask for this type of information through a text message, email or a phone call.
Be very cautious, these scammers are sneaky! They might send you a message asking you to call a number to receive a refund from an overcharge. They will ask you to click the link to update and verify your account information or that your account has been compromised, so click the link to confirm your identity. Don’t do it! Some even call you and tell you that the IRS is going to sue you unless you forward a payment by a certain date. Don’t ever fall for that because the IRS does not call taxpayers on the phone.
You should always delete emails or messages that ask for personal information. In addition, if you get an email from someone you don’t recognize, don’t open it! Sometimes, these emails or text messages may look like they are from someone you know, or are from some business or bank you deal with. Beware! Never give any information to anyone! If you are required to send sensitive information via email be sure to password protect it. You can save the document as a .pdf and require a password in order to open it.
You should always use trusted security software and make sure it updates automatically. NEVER email financial or personal information, because email is not secure, nor is it the best way to ever transmit personal information! Box Financial has setup a client portal which allows for secure document sharing. Instead of emailing documents with sensitive information, all Box Financial clients have the ability to share documents via our portal in order to keep information secure. You should make it a habit to review your bank records and your credit card statements on a regular basis. And if you are purchasing something over the internet, make sure that it is a secure site. Look for URL’s that begin with https. The “s” stands for secure!
You should trust your instincts! If you feel a site is not legitimate, delete it! If you see something addressed to “valued customer” or “to who it may concern”, delete it! If the offer you are reading sounds too good to be true, then use your head. It is a scam! And, above all, any message that asks for your personal information is not legitimate.
You should always be wary of opening attachments or downloading files from emails, even if they come from someone you know. Very often, those files contain viruses or malware that can damage your computer.
And lastly, beware of phone calls from people who ask to get into your computer to fix some problem. These people are scammers who make a mess of your computer so you have to pay them to fix what they have done. They will tell you they are from Microsoft, but trust me, they aren’t.
If you suspect phishing, you can report it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also forward phishing emails to email@example.com and to the company, bank or organization that has been represented in the email.