A phishing scam is a type of fraud that can come in many different forms. These scams not only employ various online techniques such as fake emails and pop-up ads but can also include phone calls. The people behind these scams often use fear tactics in order to get their victims to take the bait.
Phishing is essentially an online con game, and phishers are nothing more than tech-savvy con artists and identity thieves. They use spam, malicious websites, email messages, and instant messages to trick people into divulging sensitive information. Banking information, credit card accounts, usernames, and passwords are just some of the information phishers seek to exploit.
Since phishing scams are designed to appear as if they come from reliable sources, it is smart to know the difference between real and fraudulent messages and how to spot some of the clues that a message may be a scam. Here is a list of five common phishing scams and ways to help protect yourself against falling for them.
1. Email phishing scams
An email phishing scam is a fraudulent email message that appears to be from a person or company known to the victim. It attempts to illegally gather personal and/or financial information from the recipient.
A phishing message typically includes at least one link to a fake website, designed to mimic the site of a legitimate business. The message entices the recipient to provide information that could be used for identity theft or online financial theft.
How to help protect yourself against email phishing scams:
2. Vishing scams
Vishing (voice or VoIP phishing) is the voice version of email phishing. “V” stands for voice, but otherwise, the scam attempt is the same. It is a phone scam in which individuals are tricked or scared into handing over valuable financial or personal information to scammers.
How to help protect yourself against vishing scams:
3. Tech support cold call scams
Tech support cold calls are when a scammer calls a potential victim claiming to be from a reputable security company. They lie and say they found malware on the victim’s computer.
The criminal pretends to offer a solution by getting the user to install a type of remote desktop software. This allows the attacker access to the computer in order to install real malware. In addition to attempting to install malware on the machine, these scammers will often ask for a fee to “fix” the issue.
How to help protect yourself against tech support call scams:
4. Pop-up warning scams
Pop-ups occur when someone is browsing the internet and sees a small graphic or ad appear on their screen. Usually, pop-ups are related to the content being viewed and link to another website with similar content or merchandise related to the content.
Malicious pop-ups can be terribly intrusive, making it difficult for the user to close the pop-up window. These pop-ups may display a message stating that the computer is infected with malware and offer a phone number for help with removing the malware. Often, the cybercriminals make pop-ups look like they come from a trusted source, such as our own Norton products, in hopes of appearing to be legitimate.
How to help protect yourself against pop-up scams:
5. Fake search results scams
Fraudulent companies frequently use paid search ads for their “support services” as if they were legitimate, well-known companies. These paid listings can appear at the top of a search results page, a prime location. These results, which can look like the real thing, can promise support offers that seem too good to be true in hopes of luring in a victim, whose top concern is to fix their computer. Unfortunately, when you click on the ad, malware may begin to download to your device, compromising the security of your information and adding to your computer woes.
How to help protect yourself against fake search results scams
If you think you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam: