As many businesses continue to keep employees working from home, it’s more important than ever to beware of phishing scams. These can come in the form of prize offers, threatened punishments, or something completely mundane like a file from the office scanner. Sometimes scammers just rely on a victim’s curiosity to prompt a click or download of something dangerous.
Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) is warning consumers to use caution when opening unsolicited or unexpected communications asking for personal information or to download an attachment.
“In 2019, BBB received over 5,000 reports of phishing on BBB Scam Tracker,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB. “In a phishing attack, scammers will impersonate legitimate companies as a way to con consumers to clicking on a link that leads to a site where the thief is able to steal sensitive information.”
How the Scam Works:
Con artists have a creative array of cover stories to disguise their true intentions. Phishing messages typically use one of three methods to fool victims,
The message promises a reward (a gift card, free item),
Threatens a punishment (unpaid taxes, missed jury duty, bank account issue), or
Appears entirely mundane (a file from the office scanner or from a coworker).
Phishing scams tend to follow a pattern. The victim receives an email, phone call or text message (called “smishing” or SMS phishing). In the communication, the scammer urges the target to click a link, share information, or download an attachment which likely contains malware. In the case of an email or text, the link frequently leads to a form, which prompts the target to enter personal information.
BBB has a few tips to avoid these phishing scams:
Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Always be wary of unsolicited messages that don’t contain your name, last digits of your account number or other personalizing information.
Don’t click, download, or open anything that comes from an anonymous sender. This is likely an attempt to gain access to your personal information or install malware on your computer.
Don’t click on links in an unexpected email. If something sounds suspicious, confirm it by calling the company directly or checking the company website. Be sure to type the URL for the company into your browser or do a web search to find the right website.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org.