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Phishing Scams: What Are They And How Do I Protect Myself?

Written by Jeanann Grubbs
Last Updated: 1/18/2021
info@gladiknow.com
Phishing Scams: What Are They And How Do I Protect Myself?

Phishing scams are a type of fraud that goes after internet users by sending emails, calling their mobile and home devices, connecting via social media messages and texts - pretending to be a reliable and trusted source. These scammers may pretend to be a bank, a mortgage company, a credit card company, or an internet or cable service provider. According to Radicati Group, 268 billion emails are sent each day, and about 1 in every 2,000 of these emails are phishing emails. If you do the math, that means that about 135 million scams occur each day.

How Do Phishing Scams Work?

Phishing Scams are where the scammers ask you to provide them with your personal information, which will help the scammer open new accounts or take access to your existing ones. If they contact you through social media or by text, they may congratulate you on winning a "prize" or may claim that something is "wrong" with your account, that requires correction. They even claim that your account has been compromised, or that the security has been breached (exactly what THEY are trying to do).

In the "prize" scam, accepting the award usually means that you must provide personal information - passwords, account numbers, etc. You get the idea. Often it is hard for the consumer to know whether this is real or fake. Instead of straight-up asking the unsuspecting person for their personal information, the scammer could ask you to fill out an official looking survey, or claim or incident report form.

Sometimes the thief will try to trick you into thinking they are trying to help you. For example, they may alert you that some suspicious activity has been occurring on your account, and someone spent a lot of money using your credit card info. Hearing that some suspicious activity has occurred on your account frightens almost everyone. So that is why many people fall for this trick and inform the scammer that they did not make that large purchase. The scammer will then ask you questions about your bank information to "confirm" your identity. Sometimes the scammer might already have one piece to the puzzle-like your credit card number, routing number, etc., and all they need is the expiration date or CCV of your credit card from you. Often, the scammers mimic the company's logo they are trying to impersonate, making it even harder for you to know what's real and fake.

Tips And What To Watch Out For If You Believe You Are Undergoing a Phishing Scam

  • Beware of receiving texts, emails, phone calls pretending to be banks. Banks will not ask you for personal information over the phone, unless YOU initiate the call.
  • If you notice any grammatical errors in text messages, emails, or talking to someone over the phone, this is a red flag. The online criminals are often overseas and not well educated in written english.
  • The website that the scammer sends you to does not look legitimate. Most scammers will use fake logos or recreate logos of well-known brands.
  • Think about whether or not you have an account with this company. Sometimes scammers will try to scam you by saying they are a company you do not use.
  • Receiving a text that claims that an old friend needs you to send them money at that very moment, be careful. First, try texting the 'friend' that is in dire need of money. This action should clear things up fast.
  • It is ubiquitous to overhear voicemails claiming you have won a trip to an exotic island for a great price. However, if the voicemail sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
  • A scammer claims to be your phone company and asks for a particular payment. Phone companies will never call their consumer directly about outstanding fees. Never send money over to someone if you do not know the whole story.
  • The scammer claims they are a government worker. Sometimes scammers will claim you are eligible for a government refund. The scammer will ask for personal information, which will allow them to steal money from you.
  • Frequently, scammers will send links in text messages with no text. This trick is supposed to entice you and leave you wondering what it could be. If you click on the link, they can often lead you to a site requesting you to input personal information, informing you that there is a reward if you do so.

How To Stay Safe From Phishing Attacks

If you want to stay protected from phishing attacks, here are a few things you should do based on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommendations. Always do software updates on your computer. This action will keep security patches up to date and help prevent scammers from contacting you. Allow your phone to self-update so that you will have security against scammer attacks. Most accounts, such as banks and emails, have two-factor authentication available to be set up. This step allows you to create a two-step process for logging into your accounts. It could be two passwords, a password and a personal question, like your grandma's maiden name - information only you would know. This form of protection can send a code to your mobile device. After receiving the code, you can use it to get into your account.

Due to the high threat of scams, people in tech are trying to update our security settings all the time. It is a good idea if you stay updated with new security updates so that your personal information has a higher chance of being protected.

What To Do If You Undergo a Scam

If you think that you have undergone a scam, there are several things you can do. If you clicked a link connected to a scam, you can update your software and hopefully fix any potential issues. If a scammer has stolen your identity, you can go to the website IdentityTheft.gov. This website will take you through a step by step process based on what kind of information was scammed away from you, such as your wallet, social security, online login or password, debit or credit card, bank information, children's information, and more. Most importantly, if you know you have undergone a scam, report it. You can do this by going to the FTC website at ftc.gov/complaint. This action helps the government track and study phishing scams so they can prevent them from happening. It is always important to do your part and inform the government any time you have undergone a fraud, even if you identified the hoax and avoided it. No one wants to experience a scam, so reporting it is the best way to help others around you.

Lastly, before you EVER agree to pay or provide confidential or financial information to anyone that you do not directly know, for ANY reason, ALWAYS verify their identity first.

How To Verify Someone’s Identity - Before Sending Money Or For ANY Reason

One easy way to verify someone’s identity is by using new, advanced people search technology. These new platforms instantly and confidentially confirm the person is who they say they are. It’s simple, highly effective, and inexpensive.

Here’s how it works. New, advanced people search engines give you instant and confidential access to nearly a BILLION public records on any person in the U.S. One of our favorites, based on the best database quality and coverage, ease of use and very low cost is gladiknow.com.

Here’s how you use it to verify someone’s identity:
  1. Ask the person (in this case, the person asking for money or something else of value to you) for their name and location (city and state) or their address (both will work). (I recommend: "I am open to helping you, but I need to confirm that you are who you say you are? I am sure you are okay with that, right?")
  2. Go to gladiknow.com and input their name and location (or address) into GladiKnow's people search engine and instantly get a confidential, comprehensive report on the person including a search for his or her age, current address, address history, emails, phones, relatives, employment history, education history, social media profiles, criminal records, sex offender records, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, civil records, traffic and infraction records, licenses, permits, and much more.
  3. Then COMPARE! Now that you have that person’s ACTUAL (real) information, ask him or her about anything on the report - where they have lived, their age, employment and education history, relatives, email addresses and phone numbers, social media accounts, or any bit of information you choose from the report in front of you. The search database even includes photographs!
  4. Obviously, if the person is a scammer, he or she will certainly not give you real information which would reveal their true identity. If this is the case, you will instantly see a mismatch between what they are telling you and what you know to be true from their report. Congratulations, you have just revealed a scammer, or have confirmed they are who they say they are.

Obviously, this process works perfectly in ANY circumstance where you want to learn more or the truth about someone, from online dating to roommates and classmates, to new friends or romantic interests - the list goes on!

For more information on the new, advanced people search engines, check out this great video.

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