It’s more important than ever, for people to be aware of phishing scams. These can come in the form of prize offers, threatened punishments, or even an e-mail or text message. The sender usually relies on a victim’s curiosity, try and get them to click, or download something dangerous. Other phishing formats may not have any links to click, but rather a phone call to inquire about an account or subscription. Any unexpected communications asking for personal information or telling you to download an attachment is red flag. Many of these messages are from imposters pretending to be trustworthy businesses and organizations. They are “phishing” for Social Security or Social Insurance number, banking information, passwords, credit card information, or other personal details for use in identity theft. Don’t fall for the bait!

How the Scam Works:

Con artists have a creative variety of cover stories to disguise their true intentions. Phishing messages typically use one of three methods to fool victims:

1. The message promises a reward (gift card, free item)

2. Threatens a punishment (unpaid taxes, missed jury duty, deactivated bank account)

3. Appears harmless (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). The message urges the target to click a link, share information, call a phone number, or download an attachment which likely contains malware. 

Tips to Avoid This Scam: • If something sounds suspicious, call the company directly or checking the company website directly. Don’t click on links in an unexpected email – type the URL for the company into the browser or do a web search to find the right website. 

• 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. • Question generic emails. Scammers cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Always be aware of unsolicited messages that don’t contain your name, last digits of your account number, or other personal information.

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