Everyone has heard of phishing scams but really, how many of us can claim to say we truly know what they are? They are becoming ever more prominent in society with people ranging from your everyday person on the street to CEO’s of major companies receiving them. But what are phishing scams and how do they affect us in our day to day life?
Phishing scams tend to come in the form of an email. Most people receive emails purportedly from eBay or PayPal quite regularly telling us that our account has been hacked and that we need to login to check our security. These scams don’t tell you to log in via the website itself though, they provide a handy little link for you to click through so they can harvest all of your details.
Unsolicited emails from companies should always be treated with caution – companies will not send out unsolicited communications especially to those who are not their customers. Major companies would also not ask you to click a link within the body of text, they would advise you to visit the website for yourself thus logging in via a clean link. This is the best way of keeping your details safe without them being given to some random person or group of people behind a computer screen.
PayPal and eBay aren’t the only big name companies who’ve found out that phishing scams are being run in their names – Same day cash site Wonga have even set up a specialist ‘fraud hotline’ as have other companies in the past – and some even have special email addresses set up so that customers can report any phishing communications they have received.
Certain times of year are when phishing scams become more prominent and in turn more effective as more people are taken in by them due to being busier and more distracted. As people see an increase in genuine marketing communications falling into their email inbox, it is much easier to bypass a phishing email at these busy times of year which you would normally notice.
Phishing scams tend to prey on the vulnerable – they are the most likely to fall for them and these scammers know this, especially if their scams are as intelligent and elaborate as some actually are. The email addresses they send from can usually be just one digit or letter difference from the genuine email address and they can be incredibly difficult to spot.
Once spotted, disgruntled customers often contact the companies to complain that they have been scammed even though it isn’t the actual company that is running the scam. Wonga SA actually receive up to 300 complaints a week related to the phishing scam running in their name. Having informed the police and even elevated it to Hawks, they are hoping to keep warning customers about phishing scams and reminding them to remain as vigilant as possible. This is important as these emails are becoming incredibly hard to spot. Everyone should remain as vigilant as possible.