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Its summer time which means it’s time to hit the river or the lake with my favorite pole. While sitting along a beautiful river bank with a bucket full of fish can’t be beat,  not all fishing is that relaxing.

The other kind of phishing is the fraudulent act of imitating legitimate organizations via email, text messaging or phone calls. The goal is to get personal information, passwords and credit card numbers. And it happens all the time. BBB’s Scam Tracker has 141 reports of phishing scams in Idaho since June of last year, with the most significant incident resulting in an Eastern Idaho woman losing $500.

It started with an email, seemingly from Paypal, warning her account was hacked. The email instructed her to purchase five $100 Google Play gift cards in order to resolve the issue. Then, they asked for more money, “to get the rest of the hackers out,” and also stated they would notify the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau about the incident. But, of course, none of that was true and her money was gone girl.

Phishing is a larger issue than just a type of scam; it’s a tactic con artists use in many other types of scams. They cast a wide net with these emails hoping to catch  you off guard and ensnare you into one of their cons.  

Here’s what to look for:

  • Phishing messages typically either offer a reward (a gift card or free item), threaten a punishment (deactivate account or report to authorities), or appear completely mundane (a file from an office scanner).
  • In the communication, the scammer urges the target to download malware, click a link, or share information. In the case of an email or text, the link frequently leads to a form, which prompts the target to enter personal information.
  • 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 messages that don’t contain your name or other personalizing information. Keep in mind it’s not difficult for scammers to copy and paste logos to make emails look legitimate.
  • Be careful before you click. Hover over a link to see where it leads. Before entering personal information or passwords on any website, double check you have the correct URL and watch for minor misspellings.

Don’t take the bait! If you think you have received a phishing email the best thing to do is delete it. If you are questioning the legitimacy of an email, contact the company directly. Do not use the contact information contained in the suspicious email.

Protect your personal information, so the only phishing stories you’ll have to tell this summer are about that trout you swear was at least as long as your arm. 

If you have fallen victim to a scheme like this, please submit a report to BBB Scam Tracker.

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Written by Jeremy Johnson

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