March 18, 2020
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report victims reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion due to internet crimes, such as phishing, in 2020 - notably, with the emergence of scams exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a phishing scam, criminals send an email or a text, or call a victim disguised as a company or person they know. The goal of the phisher is to steal the victim’s money, identity or both by convincing the unsuspecting consumer to click on a link or share sensitive information, such as a password. The fraudsters often pressure victims to act quickly by saying something bad will happen if they do not comply.
Read the following tips to help protect yourself from a phishing scam.
Verify the Source
- Look up the website or phone number for the company or person who’s contacting you.
- Call that company or person directly. Use a number you know to be correct, not the number in the email or text.
- Tell them about the message you got.
Watch for Red Flags
- You don’t have an account with the company.
- The message is missing your name or uses bad grammar and spelling.
- The person asks for personal information, including passwords.
- But note: some phishing schemes are sophisticated and look very real, so check it out and protect yourself.
- Keep your computer security up to date and back up your data often.
- Consider multi-factor authentication — a second step to verify who you are, like a text with a code — for accounts that support it.
- Change any compromised passwords right away and don’t use them for any other accounts.
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