In today’s digital ecosystem, consumers enjoy all the best conveniences for learning, buying, and communicating online and usually with their mobile devices on the go. But it also means there is a great risk of fraud and scams. To avoid falling victim to some of the most creative criminal enterprises out there, you’ll want to be mindful of scam attempts and, more importantly, phishing scams.
Recognizing phishing scams
Phishing scammers are typically trying to get information from you, whether it’s account numbers, personal details, or access to your passwords. To do that, they’ll be creative with their storytelling and try to disguise their messaging as “official” as possible. While their tactics continue to change, there are a few red flags to recognize, prompting you to delete the message and report it if necessary.
- They say there’s something suspicious about your account, login, or access.
- They claim there’s a payment processing that needs your attention.
- They seek confirmation from you in some way, usually by clicking a link.
- They share an invoice with you that you don’t recognize.
- They offer official refunds or payments disguised as a government entity.
- They celebrate your win of something free, prompting a link to collect.
Types of phishing scams to avoid
More recently, consumers have been reporting certain phishing scams that seem to be on the rise. Look for these emails or digital correspondence and recognize that they’re phishing for information. These types of scammers are hopeful you will click their links and inadvertently download their malware.
Google docs scam
Phishing scammers will use a Google doc as a way to evade spam detectors and email protections. You might notice an email with a notification that someone is requesting access to your document, although you’re unfamiliar with the document or person in question. Don’t fall for these requests or click on the links provided. If you are working within a Google doc, you’ll have options to share with additional parties within the doc itself.
Another common phishing scam involves the file-sharing platform Dropbox. In these cases, recipients receive an email saying someone has shared a folder or link. Dropbox says to verify first that the sender is someone you recognize. And don’t click on any links provided if you have suspicions. Instead, forward the email to their fraud department at email@example.com and delete it immediately.
Email account upgrading scam
You might receive suspicious correspondence from your email provider, too. Look to spot spelling or grammar discrepancies either in the text itself or in the sender’s email address. If your email account actually has a request for you, you can find it in your account profile directly. And most email platforms will automatically update your account without prompting, especially with operational-related upgrades.
There are several PayPal-related phishing scams to recognize and avoid. Many will come as emails with an urgent call to action about account deactivation. Others will share payments made from your account that are unfamiliar to you, prompting you to “click a link” to dispute it. Log into your PayPal account separately and verify if there are any concerns. And when you recognize the email is spam, PayPal asks that you delete the email after you forward it to their fraud department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this phishing scam, you might receive an email that appears to be from your Netflix account. It will read as a request to “update your payment details.” And the email reads on to say Netflix is having trouble processing your monthly payment.
Because Netflix has been in the news lately with its statement about sharing passwords outside the household, it has become a target for phishing. And if you’re suspicious of an email, don’t click any links provided. Instead, go to Netflix directly in a new browser window and log into your account.
Protecting yourself from phishing scams
There are steps consumers can take to reduce their risks of becoming targets of phishing scams.
- Use security software and update it regularly.
- Use multi-factor authentication on applicable online accounts.
- Back up your data to another hard drive or cloud service.
Staying informed is the key
The key to avoiding risks associated with phishing scams or other fraudulent activity online is by staying informed. And you can always stay updated on the latest scams out there with Anti-Fraud News. As the leading voice in fraud prevention, follow the blog for emerging trends, fraud-related news, and tips for protecting yourself.