Better Business Bureau serving the Canton and Greater West Virginia area offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
BBB recommends that it’s even more important than ever that everyone is aware of phishing scams. These can take the form of price offers, threats of sanctions, or even a text message. Sometimes the sender relies on a victim’s curiosity to instigate a click or download of something dangerous. Other phishing formats may not have links to click on, but rather a phone call to inquire about an account or subscription.
Any unsolicited or unexpected communication requesting personal information or telling you to download an attachment is a red flag. Many of these messages come from impostors claiming to be trustworthy businesses and organizations. This is âphishingâ for social security numbers, banking information, passwords, credit card information, or other personal information to be used in connection with identity theft. Don’t fall for the bait!
How the scam works
Scammers have a creative variety of cover stories to disguise their true intentions. Phishing messages typically use one of the following three methods to trick victims:
The message promises a reward (gift card, free item), or threatens a sanction (unpaid taxes, missed juror, deactivated bank account), or possibly appears harmless (file from the scanner of the office or of a colleague).
Phishing scams tend to follow a pattern. The victim receives an e-mail, a phone call or an SMS (called âsmishingâ or SMS phishing). The message urges the target to click a link, share information, call a phone number, or download an attachment that likely contains malware. In the case of an e-mail or an SMS, the link frequently returns to a form, which invites the target to enter personal information.
Think twice before downloading anything from the internet, especially if it is an attachment from an anonymous sender. The crooks will hide malware in an attachment and once downloaded; it can wreak havoc on your personal device or steal your personal information. If you are online at home, the scammer can also steal the IP address and then connect to any other device connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
Tips to avoid this scam
If anything seems suspicious to you, call the company directly or go directly to the company’s website. Don’t click links in an unexpected email: type the business URL into the browser or search the web to find the right website.
Do not click, download or open anything that comes from an anonymous sender. This is most likely an attempt to access your personal information or install malware on your computer.
Query generic emails. Scammers cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Always beware of unsolicited messages that do not contain your name, the last digits of your account number, or other personalization information.
Related: Some phishing scams specifically target CEOs and other executives with the aim of obtaining company information or personal details of all employees of a company. Visit bbb.org/scamstudies to read the BBB study on Business Email Compromise Scams.
FOR MORE INFORMATION – If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Learn how to protect yourself by going to BBB.org/avoidscams. Additional information on phishing scams is available from the Federal Trade Commission.
FOR BBB INFORMATION – Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to find a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips, find our events, follow us on social media, and more!