Today, phishing is one of the most common internet scams. What is phishing? And how can you ensure you do not fall victim to this fraud attempt?
The ease in which we can communicate with one another today from afar makes life so much easier. Being able to send someone a quick SMS message, an instant message via chat apps, or even an email allows for us to easily share information with the people that we need to reach out to.
This ability to reach out to people, though, also works in the favour of businesses. Now, companies can keep in touch with customers past and present and give them all of the information that they need. Sadly, though, this also relates to scams – including phishing
Phishing is now a common term, but for many it can sound ambiguous. In this quick guide, we will break down what phishing is, why you need to be aware of it, and what to do if you feel you might have fallen victim to a phishing scam.
What is phishing?
Phishing is the practice of sending electronic communications that are supposed to come from a reputable and trusted source. For example, you might have recently received emails or SMS messages claiming to be from the UK Government. This could be to do with COVID-19 furlough payments, it could be to do with the energy crisis rebate, or it could even be to do with your tax bills.
In other walks of life, it could be a message from your bank, an insurance provider, or a service that you happen to use. The problem? These messages do not actually come from the source claimed.
They are run by criminals who are looking to gain access to private information. They hope that you will give them access to private information such as login details, passwords, or payment information. Once they receive your sensitive information, they use it to impersonate you, to buy things with your money, or to take something else they desire.
Is phishing common?
Most people assume that they cannot be a victim of such fraud. Why would someone target you?
The problem with this line of thought is that phishing is so easy to do. All it takes is a mass-sending of emails, SMS messages etc. to a large quantity of email addresses and numbers. The scammers only need one or two people to fall for the trick to pay for their time and costs.
Phishing attacks have become a common problem, targeting both people and businesses alike. Indeed, a government survey found that some 39% of businesses surveyed could identify a cyberattack incident. Of those businesses who could identify a scam attempt, 83% noted that it was a phishing attempt.
The most common forms of phishing
Phishing comes in many shapes and forms, but the most common means of communication for a phishing attempt will include:
Emails that claim to come from a respected source, but when investigated closer are clearly not from the business/entity they claim to be
SMS messages which look to pretend they are helplines, government bodies, delivery companies, and even your bank
Fake websites which have a similar domain to the real company they are impersonating, but with crooked payment processors and information gathering tools
Phone calls, looking to get personal information from you – they often claim to be from banks, insurance companies, the government, and other authority groups
These are just some of the most common ways that a phishing attempt could take place. If you are ever uncertain about a message you receive, do not reply. Block or delete the communication. Had an email/message that claims to be from your bank? Or someone on the other end of the line claiming to be from your bank? Then hang up and call your banks official number. Or, better yet, go and see them in-branch.
The same goes for any phishing scam taking place. The company they claim to represent can easily be contacted by yourself. If there is a legitimate problem, you can resolve it with the company directly.