However, these phishing scams are getting more and more sophisticated and in this post we will look at what their purpose is and also how to identify them.

What is the purpose of phishing?

It really is simple – it is a means of getting access into your personal details such as email addresses as well as banking or login details.

The aim is to steal these details to gain access to your private world and unlock whatever they can. For example, trying to steal your mailbox details could be for sending spam emails, stealing private date or fraud.

If they are trying to get hold of your banking details the aim is pretty much always to steal cash whereas if they are wanting to steal log-ins for e-commerce websites or bank card particulars, the aim would be to make fraudulent purchases.

Now there are a few signs one can look out for. Once you gain insight into their methods you will be able to guard against them.

How do we spot these potential phishing thieves?

Regardless of how high-tech they are, primarily it works the same as an old school con job: somebody has to persuade you that they are from a trustworthy source before they can attempt to steal from you.

Generally, they do it by way of emails seemingly coming from a trustworthy source. You will be asked to with urgency to click on a link that will direct you to a spoofed website.

Don’t be fooled by the look and feel of the website as it will be designed to look very authentic, you will then be asked to enter in very personal data. Do not be deceived, for as soon as they have your information it is like handing them a green card to commit whatever fraud they want.

So how do we know which emails are authentic and which ones are phishing scams?

Four golden guidelines for figuring out phishing scams

 

Don’t be fooled by the logo or email address

It is very easy for these thieves to copy a logo and even fake the email address making it look like it is coming from a trusted source.

Do not be deceived as display names can easily be changed to mask the original email address.

Be weary of requests seemingly urgent

A vital factor to consider is that a company will never request you to change your password via a link in a mail. These links can be used by phishers to hide the actual site taking you to the fake account.

Also, no company will just suspend your account and then send you a mail asking you to log in via a certain link to rectify the situation.

Real companies will not send you a link, instead, they will provide you with a full URL in the text.

When receiving such a suspicious mail rather type out the URL in the browser and do not click on the link.

Be on the lookout for typing and spelling errors

Professional companies have their own copywriters to ensure that their grammar and typos are correct. So if you see any typos and or errors be on alert.

Also, be on the lookout for strange or misspelled company URL’s. If you have any suspicions copy and paste the URL directly into your browser.

Do not open the attachments

A common tactic of these phishing thieves is spreading malware and viruses by way of attachments. The aim of this is to either damage files or steal passwords from your computer.

If you do get one of these sudden attachments, double check the sender’s email address before opening the attachment.

Prevention

Believe it or not, there are some methods you can take to prevent these perpetrators from invading your personal details and just doing what they want.

How do they always say: Prevention is better than cure. As mentioned above the best way to achieve this is to identify potential threats/scams, however, there are a few extra steps you can take to protect yourself.

Verify the URL in your browser.

Make sure of the URL before logging into any site. For example, if you know that your banks URL is www.standardbank.co.za, do not log into www.standardbank.co.za/login.co.za.

Also, make sure the web address is spelled correctly.

Use strong passwords

Ensure that your passwords are strong, safe and secure. Don’t use weak passwords that you have previously used for a few years.

Emails asking for personal information must be deleted

Do not even open these mails. If you do, don’t click on any links or call numbers supplied. Delete immediately or report them as spam.

Do not respond to mails with personal or financial information

Personal or financial information should rather be confirmed or given through via a phone call. If it is not possible rather split into a few mails and text messages.

Confirm bank details telephonically as it is easy for phishers to modify an invoice to reflect their own banking details.

Check statements

Be sure to check your credit card and bank statements ensuring that there are no additional or unauthorized charges.

Passwords should not be shared telephonically

No reputable company will ask you to telephonically confirm your passwords. Do not fall into this trap.

Last but not least, if you receive any suspicious emails from a company inform them thereof so that they can take immediate action.

Don’t be intimidated by these scams, if you can identify them, trash them and leave them empty-handed.

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