By Savvy Cyber Kids March 27, 2019
No doubt, you have heard of phishing: the fraudulent practice of using emails, DMs, or texts that end up taking you to copycat websites pretending to be from a reputable company in order to get you to reveal personal information, such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, login IDs, passwords and credit card numbers.
This information is valuable to criminals who use it to steal your money or your identity or both, as well as, to get access to your computer to launch a ransomware attack that can lock you out of your computer.
Listen, it’s easy to make mistakes! The scammers have gotten very good at imitating the familiar logos and login pages of legitimate companies. The criminals will make it seem like they need your information quickly – your account will be frozen, you won’t get a tax refund, your account will go into overdrawn status or a family member will be hurt or you could be arrested. Basically, they tell lies that panic you to get to you act quickly, without thinking, and give them information that they want.
This recently happened to me. An email from Amazon showed an order that looked unfamiliar. It was a really large purchase and I was naturally concerned. Without thinking, I clicked on the order number and within moments, a poker gaming software was loaded on my computer. Clearly, this was not really an email from Amazon. Later, when I placed my mouse over the sender’s email address, I was able to see that the sender’s address was not valid. I should have done this before I clicked on the link. This time, I was able to quickly remove the invading software and do several security scans to ensure nothing was left behind. But it was a good reminder that’s it’s very easy to be tricked.
The criminals assume that they will be easily confused and will act on emotion – especially when inquiries are related to the well-being of bank accounts and billing accounts. But scams are not limited to grandparents. Our youngest digital citizens, our children, and grandchildren who spend a lot of time online are being marketed to by scammers who focus on their areas of interests, like gaming. Common scams ask young people to fill out a survey to gain gaming benefits or enter into an exchange of gaming loot. It’s all fake but by clicking on links and providing personal information, young people are at risk too. Their gaming accounts can be stolen, along with the parent’s credit cards associated with that account.
So while you may make a mistake and sometimes click on a link that you should not have – you need to be especially careful not to enter any personal information in response to an inquiry, unless you have carefully validated the authenticity of the sender.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the rules to stay safe are the same for all ages:
Read more here and see examples of phishing scams that imitate companies that look very familiar to you, like Netflix, UPS, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, PayPal, Amazon, and the IRS.
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