It Comes Down to One Thing – Manipulation
Have you received a text message from a delivery company that you are familiar with and never for a moment questioned it? Why would you – we order so much online that a text message updating us on the status is not unusual.
Have you received an email from your bank asking you to change your password and clicked the link before checking the source? Why would you – it is suggested to change your password frequently, and some accounts automatically make you after a set period of time.
With the increased use of online and texting, the fraud floodgates have opened. The Federal Trade Commission got 334,833 complaints about scam texts last year, more than double the year before. People around the world were exposed to about 125 percent more smishing attempts every three months, according to a new study from the cybersecurity company Lookout.
Typically, scammers will use a sense of urgency to cause you to react quickly. They are trusting that your worry, frustration, heart-pounding, initial gut reaction will cause you to take their desired action – clicking a link, downloading an attachment or replying. They may be searching for your login credentials, bank accounts number, contact information, or a variety of other sensitive personal or business data.
It comes down to one thing – fraudsters are good at manipulation. They are crafty in adopting techniques in order to tempt people to do what they would otherwise “hopefully” think twice about.
How to Recognize Phishing
Phishing emails and text messages may look like they’re from a company you know and trust.
Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
- say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
- claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
- say you must confirm some personal/business information
- include a fake invoice
- want you to click on a link to make a payment
- say you’re eligible to register for a government refund
- offer a coupon for free stuff
How to Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks
- Know and recognize the signs of a phishing email and/or texting
- Don’t be too quick to click or download – instead go to the site directly or type in the URL
- Implement email spam filters – reduce the phishing email that reach your inbox
- Use computer security software – protect your computer from the inside out
- Update software and apply patch management – keep your security optimized
- Utilize multi-factor authentication on accounts – even if your login credentials are hacked, they won’t be able to access your account
- Back up your data – protect your sensitive data when ransomed or lost
Please note: Replying “STOP” to a marketing company or signing up for the FTC’s Do Not Call list can reduce spam from companies that seek to abide by U.S. law. But since many scammers have no interest in following the law, that’s likely to do more harm than good.
Anytime You Receive an Email or Text Message, Review the Following
- Do I have an account with the company or know the person contacting me?
- Does the sender’s email address match the sender’s name – spelling, name, etc.
- Do the links match their intended destination (hoover over for preview)
- Are the file types standard or unusual?
- What time was the email sent?
- Are there spelling mistake and/or formatting errors?
When in doubt, don’t take the requested action. Instead, contact the source directly, confirm the request, or change the password on the account directly. Don’t be manipulated by scammers – you are smarter than that!