My husband is an avid fisherman. He can throw a line into the water all day long and patiently wait for that one fish to swim up and take the bait. The concept is the same for those who phish online. They bait the hook with some enticing, legitimate-looking message and then wait for someone to come along and click on it.
We’ve all seen them…either as a text or an email. I get several a day. Maybe it’s from “FedEX” telling me to click the link in order to find when my package will be delivered. Or from “Amazon” warning me there is a problem with my account. I recently received a text from “Netflix” letting me know that I needed to update my information or my account would be suspended. (I don’t even have a Netflix account anymore.)
The problem is, as soon as I see one of those messages, I immediately get nervous. Like maybe something is wrong or maybe I should click it because there really could be an issue. Apparently, I’m not alone in that feeling. The FBI reports that in 2019, people collectively lost $57 million to phishing scams.
Never…never…let me say it once more…NEVER click on a link sent to you like that. Always go directly to the website and view your account from there.
My husband is now receiving phishing emails at work claiming to be LinkedIn. Last week an email came through from his supervisor telling him there was a gift he was going to receive. Because they have had so many issues with employees actually clicking on bogus links, their company has instituted a stringent flagging and blocking system.
However, most people don’t have a policing system on their personal devices. So, what can you do? First, as stated previously, do not click on any link. Instead, pick up the phone and call that person or go directly to the source from which it claims to have originated.
But what if you accidentally do click the link? Do not enter any personal information. Immediately shut that window down. If the message comes in an email, look at the URL. Most often, it will have a different domain even though everything else looks the same. Another clue to look for is how the email is addressed. If it is a generic greeting, or if there is something misspelled, it’s probably not a legitimate email. And one of the best ways to prevent falling victim to a phishing expedition is to install a quality spam filter that will spot the fake before it ever hits your inbox.
Finally, if you do feel you have been duped into giving away your personal information, you might want to visit the FTC’s Identity Theft Site that can help you handle the situation.
In any case, I know that it’s much more fun to go fishing than it is to get “phished”, so be aware and don’t let yourself take the bait.