Yes! I’m sure we did. What year did you graduate? Really? Me too! What is your name again? It’s been a while. I’m at work now, give me your email and I’ll contact you when I get home tonight, ok? Great!
If there is a positive side to the “phishing” scam, it’s the fact that criminals still have to try to trick you into giving up your credentials. This means that they can’t circumvent the safeguards that are in place now. Therefore, it is up to the individual to remain prudent in cyber-space.
The phishing scam itself is a simple trick. It’s no different than a pick-pocket lifting your wallet by using distraction. In my opinion, the unique words and acronyms used to describe these serious crimes, serve to help perpetuate them, in that they are largely misunderstood. What is phishing you ask? How do you explain phishing you say? Why is it spelled with a “Ph…?”; perhaps some disambiguation is in order.
Attempts to obtain your personal information, no matter how, are crimes. In real life, in the old days, it was called a “con job”, and now, the quintessential con-man has slithered into cyber-space.
There are steps you can take to keep safe, however, avoiding the Internet altogether for fear of getting scammed would, for all intents and purposes, be letting the criminals win, in a sense. Working very hard to recognize the fraudulent attempts that come to your email inbox is a good habit to have. Such attempts that do come to your inbox or cell phone instant message or texting application, can be forwarded to the proper authorities for investigation. Working hard and paying attention when online may seem like too much to do just for surfing the web, but driving an automobile is a thousand times more difficult and dangerous. Best practices while on the Internet can become second nature, just as driving a car is. Personally, I enjoy forwarding the criminal attempts via email to the FBI or my ISP company. It gives a sense that something is getting done. The task of tracking cyber-criminals is herculean though, but it’s better than doing nothing.
Many Internet Service Providers (ISP’S) have departments you can forward fraudulent email messages to. Adding the email addresses of these departments to your address book is a good way to stay on top of fraud attempts. As for the attempts themselves, criminals are not too bright. Some of the attempts are pitifully obvious and easy to spot. Others are very sophisticated; however, it has been written that “The truth has a certain ‘ring’ to it…”, and extra focus and attention to these messages that make you pause, is best.
Phishing is a cheap trick. Those who perpetrate it are ever trying and changing their approach. They can flood tens of thousands of email recipients with the fake messages which have malicious coding mixed in with it. They are clever, but so are you. Stay focused.