Five Part Series – Part III – Phishing Emails
One of the most common techniques hackers use to draw people to their fake websites is a technique called “email phishing“.
Phishing is a very old technique scam artists have been using for many years to try and trick people into thinking that an email they’ve sent you is from a legitimate business. These days, online email services are very good at identifying these sort of spam emails and automatically filtering them into to a spam folder. However, you may still receive some of them in your inbox, and they can look very convincing.
A few things to watch for are links inside of the email telling you to log in to confirm the ID and password for your account, or to otherwise confirm something about your account. There will often be a threat that your account will be frozen or closed if you don’t confirm immediately. PayPal is the most common target for phishing, but major bank customers are commonly a target as well.
Look for unusual links in the email (why would Discover customer service send me to a website link with 126.96.36.199 in it??). You may even notice legitimate-looking things like a company copyright notice – people aren’t allowed to print that unless it’s legitimate, right? Nope.
Your best bet, and the advice that even the bank customer service will give you if you call and ask, is that you should never respond to anything via email when it has to do with logging into any of your accounts. If there’s an issue, you can open up a browser and log into your financial accounts directly. Most banks have an internal messaging system inside of those accounts that they use to communicate with customers. If you don’t see any message there, then you know for certain the email is fake. If you have any doubts, call customer service, but don’ t ever click on an email link to log into any of your online accounts.
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