Phishing, Vishing, Smishing
What you need to know to recognize and avoid these popular scams! You can protect yourself with a few easy tips.
We post frequently about #phishing attempts and how to identify them on our social media pages, and a short while ago we mentioned #vishing and smishing as well. However, there was a lot left out in that post that we wanted to cover, so I wanted to take this space to elaborate.
While each type of these virtual attacks attempts to steal your personal data and/or elicit funds, each category has distinctive methodology to their attacks with discernable ways of identifying and preventing the attack.
Phishing—the most well known of the trio—is accomplished specifically through the use of deceptive email messages or websites, in an attempt to reveal personal or confidential information from their victim which can then be used #illicitly.
Vishing is the criminal practice of making phone calls or leaving voice messages pretending to be from reputable companies in order to trick their victim into revealing personal information. We most often see this as scammers pretending to be from your bank. We’ve heard from customers that these types of scams even go as far as to screen their real number and show up in your phone’s caller ID as your bank’s official number.
Smishing, although it may sound silly, is shorthand for SMS (short message/messaging service) phishing. #Smishing is similar to the previous two except that it is attempted entirely through text messaging services. Considering the larger percentage of text messages that are opened compared to that of emails, smishing is easily one of the more dangerous methods and likewise, it is more popular among criminals.
Regardless of the method of attack, each scam tends to present similar messages to attempt to fool their victims. Look for red flags along the lines of:
"There has been some suspicious activity (or log-in attempts) on your account."
"Your card or payment information has expired, please update your information."
Call the official company they claim to represent the company's officially recognized number and attempt to verify the claim presented in the message. If they are unaware of sending you any messages, you know for certain it was an attempted scam.
"Your payment has not gone through; click the link to finish your transaction."
"You have been awarded a coupon (or won a prize), click here to claim it!"
Never click links from sources you are unfamiliar with. You also should never reply to these messages, (even if they say, "reply STOP to cancel messages." It confirms with them that your number is active and that they can target you again in the future
"Through the latest legislation, the IRS has determined you are eligible for an additional refund. Fill out the attached form to process your deposit."
"Your account has been overcharged, fill out this form to process your refund."
Verify the sender of these kinds of messages, if you're getting messages about the IRS from anyone other than the IRS, you can safely ignore those messages. It is also advisable to avoid filling out any forms with personal information when you cannot verify where it is being sent or saved.
Claims of Personal Injury
"Your child (or loved one) has been hurt in an accident and your personal information is needed for their treatment."
These attempts are much scarier; but if you have a family member they could be referring to, make sure you attempt to contact them first before considering answering these texts Keep in mind, hospitals do not text parents requesting personal information of patients, it is a HIPPA violation, and would potentially open their hospital up to a lawsuit.
Being aware of the types of scams that are surfacing will better prepare you to protect yourself and your personal information. Generally, if you are unsure about the validity of a correspondence, don't engage with it and ask a professional for assistance.
However, in the event that you are a victim of a scam, seek out assistance immediately.
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