“Congratulations! You have just won a virtual phishing trip! Just click here.”
Simply put, phishing is a scam. Globally, there are over 156 Million phishing emails sent every day. Over 16 million of those make it through spam filters. Nearly 8 million are opened, with 800,000 of them clicked. And, 80,000 people fall for it. In this last group, 10% of them, who have their identities stolen, experience financial loss. So, what do you need to look out for to avoid being their next victim?
First, phishing emails, direct messages (DM), and some promotional/contest posts will look like legitimate information or opportunities from businesses or people you trust. They will even have logos and graphics to match. One way to check this is by comparing the URL in the message to the hyperlinked address- a mismatched URL equals a scam. For example, https://unionwireless.devicebits.com/expresshelp/ is an actual website, but https://unionwireless/getphishy is not.
Secondly, pay attention to the grammar and possible extreme usage of symbols. Corporations usually review all their campaigns and correspondence for grammar, spelling, legalities, and other things. An ill-written anything will not come from a real company.
Third are the red flags of phishing: requests for personal information. The companies you work with already have your social security number, birth date, account number, password, etc. A reputable company will never send you an email or DM seeking personal information.
Fourth. If you are being asked for or being notified that you won some money…delete, delete, delete. Don’t open it, just jump off that phishing hook and swim away. Often these contests come in the form of pop-ups that have links sending you to a prompt asking for…wait for it…personal information. So, if you didn’t initiate the contact by putting your name in a gift card raffle, then odds are it’s a phishing scam.
All in all, if you receive an email or DM from an unfamiliar source or come across a clickable contest beware of a potential scam and ask yourself these questions: Does it sound legitimate, or is it trying to mimic someone you know? Is the punctuation or grammar poor? Why are they asking for personal information? When did I sign up for that contest? Some things are too good to be true! Just remember, if it smells “phishy”, then it’s probably best to just throw it back.
Contributed by Angelica Mecham