A Brief Guide to “Phishing Scams”

Phishing Scams

By Gurraj Ahluwalia & Pratyush Dhawan 

What are they?pexels-photo

Targeted scams delivered through different mediums such as email, social media, pop-up ads and, cold calls designed to
“phish” your personal information or fool you into installing malware on your computer.

Read our guide to learn more about the warning signs that can help you distinguish phishing scams.

4 Signs?

Generic Greeting – Content is addressed broadly: i.e. Dear Customer, Dear Apple ID.

Formatting and Spelling Errors – The content may have altered logos, grammar mistakes and consistent spelling errors.

Urgency and Warning – The urgent tone of the message and suggestion of consequences like: winning or losing significant amount of money, closing of your account, emotional harm, or triggering an emotional reaction. Their goal is to fool you into thinking that downloading a software or attachment, clicking on a link, submitting credit card or personal information will solve the problem.

Missing Information – Often scammers fail to provide a callback number, address or name.

Getting Personal –  If they are asking for your personal information, or banking information, you should immediately stop. Credited organizations will never use these methods to attain your personal information as they often have this information already. 

What if I receive one?

If you ….
  • Are receiving an email – Delete it. Report it to the organization.
  • See a pop-up? – Close the pop-up or the browser.
  • Receive a phone call? – Ask for a callback number. If they do not provide one, politely hang up the phone.
  • Receive a text – ignore and delete it

What are some proactive measures you can take?

Install and regularly update anti-virus, anti-spyware programs, ad-blockers. MAC users too!

Note: Your anti-virus is not a protective force field. Often, direct user actions are the source of the problem. Be proactive with your decisions so that you avoid clicking on suspicious links and are aware of who is asking for the information.

Some anti-virus programs we recommend:

Microsoft Security Essential – Free

Although not the most advanced anti-virus program it is a low-barrier software.  As a native Microsoft program, it has a simple installation process and will not be full of bloatware. After installation, it is a relatively carefree program that will work in the background and auto-update seamlessly.

For paid anti-virus ensure that you are renewing the subscription and any required updates are installed. Otherwise you are at risk of getting malware.

Kaspersky – Paid

Top-notch malware protection, easy to use and user-friendly installation

Bitdefender – Paid

Top rated anti-virus program which can be trusted to take care of many viruses. It is easy to use and works seamlessly in the background.

Or feel free to make your own decision. As the anti-virus markets saturated with many products, we recommend that before you make a purchase refer to a guide such as https://www.av-comparatives.org/summary-reports/ so you can make an informative decision.

What happens if I have given my information?

Take a deep breath, the scam is delivered to thousands of people. Your safety is not likely compromised, however consult this link for advice on how to proceed: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/rep-sig-eng.htm.

If you sent your….
  • Username and password for any account – change the username/password immediately.
  • Personal information such as: address, banking information, credit card numbers and any other information that you can change – please contact the appropriate organization or financial institution and report the identity theft and follow the appropriate procedure outlined by the organization. Afterwards, be aware of any unusual activities on the account.
  • Personal information that isn’t changeable such as: Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, date &/or city of birth, health/medical information – there is not much you can do. Please be aware of any suspicious activity and report the identity theft.

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