What does phishing mean? Pronounced fishing. Phishing is a form of sending fraudulent emails to someone for the purpose of gaining personal and confidential information to do harm also known as Identity theft. Identity theft is one of the biggest scams on the web today.
The information that phishing tries to get can include the following:
- credit card number
- social security number
Phishing is one of the fastest growing cyber crimes where an estimated 1 in 20 people will get a phishing email and respond with personal information. That number is staggering. Since phishing criminals are good at what they do, it is important to arm yourself with information so that you don’t inadvertently become a victim.
There are several signs that you can look for in an email that will let you know it is a phishing attempt.
- Dear customer – email does not directly address you by your name. If it is legitimate and from a company you do business, they will address you by your name.
- False sense of urgency – a phishing email will push you to take immediate action. It instills fear that if you don’t respond, something bad will happen to your account.
A good example of an urgency email would be:
Subject line: Unauthorized Account Access
Someone has attempted to log into your _______ account. Please follow the link to
verify your account! Your account will be closed within 24 hours if you do not verify
- Suspicious activity on your bank account – this type of email will try to get you to log into your bank account.
- “This is not a scam!” – a phishing email will usually state this is not a scam. Keep in mind that most legitimate businesses won’t have to state this!
A newer version of phishing is now offering a reward for you to respond to the message. This usually includes some type of gift card and you will get it if you click the link to provide information on where to send the gift card.
Also, phishing emails will offer a form of fraud protection and by clicking the link and providing your personal information you will be enrolled.
Phishing emails will contain a link that you must click. This link will take you to a site that will request your personal information. Often times, the site may look like a legitimate link, however, it is not. They are able to hide behind technology to make it look real but it is not. The average lifespan of a phishing website is normally about 6 days. If you try to go back and find it, it usually is not there. The site will look identical to a real business website, have all the logos and so on.
Whenever I get an email from a place of business, I never follow the link. I go directly to the real website and check to see if anything is wrong with my account. I should never have to “verify” my information on the real website. By verify, I mean re-enter all my personal information. It is already on their records and I just have to make sure the account is correct.
What does phishing mean? Well, phishing is a way for criminals to “fish” for your personal information. They don’t have any information at the time they send this email. Their goal is to get as much of your personal information as possible. Being knowledgeable about these types of crimes and how to protect yourself from identity theft will save you a lot of heartache later on. Be mindful of the tricks that cyber criminals use to steal your personal information. Don’t fall prey to them!
Here are some examples of phishing.