Learn More About Email Phishing

The phrase “phishing” can itself be a little confusing to parse; even if you’ve heard of it before, you might not be completely clear on what it is. What does it mean if you’re a victim of email phishing?

Impersonating a Trusted Party

At its most basic, phishing describes when a scammer impersonates a trusted party to try and gain your trust and steal your information. Many popular scams take the form of phishing. Think of the way in which a scam email will claim to be from a bank or certain scammers will claim to be representing the government.

Because these are long-lasting scams, phishers have had a lot of time to perfect them. There are multiple proliferations of email phishing scams across the internet. No matter how careful you are, you’ve probably at least had a split second when you’ve wondered whether a phishing call or email was real.

Can Be Extremely Convincing

You might think of email scams as being geared toward only the most gullible people on the internet, but that’s definitely not the case. In fact, this concept is one of the reasons why email scams still fly around the internet regularly. If only very gullible and naive people fell for email phishing scams, why would the amount lost to these scams continue to rise?

Remember that you could always be the next victim of one of these scams. Don’t feel like you’re invincible just because you spend a lot of time on the internet. It’s good to always be thoughtful and remember that scams are advancing at the same rate as any other technology.

Not Just Confined to Email

Although email phishing is one of the most common phishing methods out there, it’s definitely important to remember that it’s not the only type of phishing out there. The second most common phishing method is phone calls, a method sometimes referred to as “vishing,” or “voice phishing.” Third is “smishing,” which utilizes texts or SMS messages.

This means that a scammer can use all types of communication to scam someone. It’s not about the fact that it’s through email — it’s about the fact that it’s a scam.

What Are the Most Common Email Phishing Types?

An email phishing scam tends to take one of several forms. These are some of the most common ones:

Financial Institutions

Because your financial institutions handle both identity and financial information, it’s a tempting target for phishers, who will impersonate the institution in question to convince you to hand over that information. You assume the person on the other end already has the information you’re providing, so you don’t think twice about confirming it.

Phishers may claim you need to verify your personal information, make a payment to upgrade services, or pay off fees immediately. That’s usually the dead giveaway — that the bank requires that you do it on a specific phone call or through this specific link. Instead, navigate to your bank site using a trusted method and check that way.

Government Entities

Most people inherently trust communication claiming to be from a government entity--FBI, DMV, Social Security Administration, etc.--which is why it’s so common for scammers to impersonate those organizations. It’s an especially insidious way to target seniors, who often have less knowledge about scamming and are more likely to give out personal information. But it can target people of any age.

Read through your email. Does the email address actually come from the site that it claims? Or is it just a clever ruse? For example, instead of the official SSA.gov, a clever scammer may try to use SSSA.gov or SSA.gov.us, both sites that look legitimate but aren’t. Always pay attention to the littlest details, because those may be what gives it away.

Workplaces

It’s only natural that you would trust your workplace and your boss, which means it’s also only natural that scammers would try and impersonate them. Especially if you work for a large chain or another significant operation, this can be very debilitating.

What if your boss was to send you an email and let you know that you’ll get a big bonus, but only if you fill out a requisition form including your personal bank account information? Would you fill it out? Email phishers are expecting that you will. The best way to avoid this is to never click links or fill out information regarding your personal information through email. Instead, give your workplace a call or talk to your boss to confirm that they did, in fact, send you that email.

How Can I Protect Myself From Email Phishing Scams?

Email phishing scams can look scary, but they’re really not as daunting as they may look at first. With just a little bit of foresight, you can make sure you stay safe.

Check and Double-Check Links

It doesn’t matter how legitimate a link looks — there’s always a chance that the sender doctored the link to mask it and make a scammer’s link appear genuine. Whether it’s with a clever one-letter switch, a shortened link or just hyperlinked text, links can be very misleading. That’s why you need to make sure you’re paying attention to them.

The best option is always to just go to the website on your own without clicking the link at all. If the email requires that you click through an embedded link to access a specific page, copy the link, then paste it into your address bar. If it doesn’t match the official website information, don’t even try it.

Stay Up-to-Date on Your Information

You can’t completely avoid this kind of behavior. And even with strenuous security protocols, you may still fall victim to email phishing at some point. But what you can do is make sure you stay up-to-date with your personal information on the internet, to see if your email phishing fail resulted in having any of your data actually compromised.

PeopleFinders can help you learn more about your personal information around the internet. It’s always a good idea to keep track of your own personal information, whether you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam or not. PeopleFinders gives you access to people searches, background checks and other tools that can help you find the information you’re searching for. Especially in an age of accidental security breaches and other general security problems, PeopleFinders can help you fight back.

Always Keep Safety in Mind

It can seem difficult to stay safe in the modern world, but this modern world also brings with it many options for safety. You don’t have to just pay attention to the problems and safety concerns in the 21st century. Consider all the good things that technology brings us, as well. After all, although technology brings email phishing, it also brings the idea of email as a whole, and that’s truly amazing.

You can effectively split the difference between this seeming security nightmare and an amazing security haven by verifying the entities you meet on your online explorations with PeopleFinders. And if you are feeling vulnerable, the same tools can help you keep track of your own information. If you ever are the victim of a phishing scam, PeopleFinders is here to be a helping hand, to help you find what’s been affected. Then, you can go out and fix it.

What Is Email Phishing?