Phishing Scams: E-mails, Links, and Phone Calls That are Up to No Good

Phishing or fishing

Don’t let phishing ruin your summer fun!

Phishing isn’t that benign summertime activity that you remember from childhood.

No, indeed.

Cyber criminals are getting better and better at fooling unsuspecting Internet users with a tactic called Phishing.

Phishing is a scam aimed at obtaining financial or other confidential information from unsuspecting people. Typically, they do this by sending an e-mail that looks as if it is from a legitimate organization. Often, it’s a financial institution.

The e-mail includes a link that looks legitimate but takes the user to a fake website. Sometimes the link is embedded in a PDF document, making it look like a real login page for your e-mail provider, bank, or credit card institution.

How to recognize phishing e-mail messages, links, or phone calls

Phishing e-mail messages, websites, and phone calls are designed to steal money. Cyber criminals do this by installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information from your computer or taking your logins and passwords from your financial sites.

Cyber criminals also use social engineering to convince you to install malicious software or hand over your personal information under false pretenses. So, they might e-mail you, call you the phone, or convince you to download something off of a website.

What do phishing e-mail messages and links look like?

Here are some examples of what phishing scams in e-mail messages might look like.

  • Spelling and bad grammar. Cyber criminals are not known for their grammar and spelling. Professional companies or organizations usually have a staff of copy editors that will not allow a mass e-mail to go out to its users with errors. If you notice mistakes in an e-mail be suspicious because it might be a scam.
  • Beware of links in e-mails. If you see a link in a suspicious e-mail message, don’t click on it. Rest your mouse (but don’t click) on the link to see if the address matches the link that was typed in the message. The link reveals the real web address. If the link is a scam, often there will be a string of cryptic numbers, looking nothing like the company’s web address.

And be sure to look closely…

  • Even when you check, it can be easy to miss the cue. Maybe the text includes “” — a URL that seems legitimate. There’s a problem though; that URL is preceded by the prefix “data:text/html.” This is what’s known as a “data URI,” not a URL. A data URI is a different animal entirely. It embeds a file when it is clicked, whereas a URL identifies a page’s location on the web.
  • Links might also lead you to .exe files. These kinds of files are legitimately used to install software or apps. They are also known to spread malicious software.

Threats and tricks…

  • Threats. Have you ever received a threat that your account would be closed if you didn’t respond to an e-mail message? Cyber criminals often use threats that your security has been compromised, so be wary of such e-mails.
  • Spoofing popular websites or companies. Scam artists use graphics in e-mails that appear to be connected to legitimate websites but actually take you to scam sites.
  • Cyber criminals also use web addresses that resemble the names of well-known companies but are slightly altered.

Beware of phishing phone calls

Cyber criminals might call you on the phone and offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Legitimate enterprises aren’t likely to make unsolicited phone calls.

If these callers gain your trust, they might ask for your username and password. Or they might ask you to go to a website to install software that will let them access your computer to fix it. If you do this, there’s a good chance that your computer and your personal information are both compromised.

Final notes…

So, treat all unsolicited phone calls and e-mails with skepticism. Don’t provide any personal information.

And whenever you receive an e-mail or a phone call, or see a pop-up window on your PC and feel uncertain whether it is from someone you trust, don’t take the risk.  Better, always, to be safe rather than sorry.

One more thing…

And to learn more about my unique, Heart-Based Time Management™ System and begin your transformational journey, sign up for my complimentary Finding Time Success Kit.  Discover how you can find time for what matters most.


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