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online phishing

How to protect yourself from Online Phishing scams?

April 14th, 2022

What are tech support scams and how to identify them? 

  • Technical support scams involve social engineering attacks in which scammers pretend to be technical support agents by contacting users via pop-ups or emails on a website, phone calls, or emails. 
  • Fraudsters want to trick you into thinking you have serious computer problems, such as a virus. They want to charge you for support services you don’t need, to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. 
  • Scammers tend to use a variety of tactics to steal money, obtain sensitive personal information, and/or gain access to the user’s device. 
  • You are often asked to pay by wiring money, using a gift card, prepaid card, or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app since those types of payments are harder to reverse. 

How do I protect myself against tech support scams? 

  • Users are often asked to call a toll-free number or are contacted via spoofed numbers of legitimate companies in these scams.
  • The scammers emphasize the urgency to convince users to act before thinking. 
  • The companies that provide technical support for Android devices, such as Microsoft, Apple, or Google, do not notify individual users that their device has been infected.
  • It is strongly advised that users do not give access to their devices or financial information to anyone they do not know and whose identity has not been verified.
  • Consider visiting official company websites when purchasing anti-virus software. 

What to do if you were scammed? 

  • It may be possible to stop a credit or debit card transaction if you paid a tech support scammer with it. You should contact your credit card company or bank right away and ask them if they can reverse the charges. 
  • In the event you paid a scammer with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away. You can tell them you paid someone with the gift card and ask them if they can refund your money. 
  • Your computer security software needs to be updated if a scammer gained remote access to your computer. Perform a scan, and delete any problems it identifies.
  • If you gave your user name and password to a tech support scammer, change your password immediately. If you use the same password for other accounts or sites, make sure you change it there as well. 
  • If you provided sensitive information, such as personally identifiable information, visit https://identitytheft.gov to report identity theft and receive guidance on a recovery plan.
  • In addition, place a credit freeze on your credit profile to prevent anyone from opening a new credit account using your information. For instructions on how to place a credit freeze, review the NJCCIC informational report, freezing your credit card.

Where do I report tech support scams? .

How To Recognize Phishing?

A phishing email or text message may look like it’s coming from a company you trust. A scam email may look like it’s from a bank or a credit card company, or it might look like it’s from a social networking website, an online payment website you trust. 

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may  

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts.
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information.
  • say you must confirm some personal information.
  • include a fake invoice.
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment.
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund.
  • offer a coupon for free stuff.

The following is a real-world example of phishing.  

Imagine you saw this in your inbox. Do you see any signs that it’s a scam? Let’s take a look. 

  • The email looks like it’s from a company you may know and trust: Netflix. It even uses a Netflix logo and header. 
  • The email says your account is on hold because of a billing problem.  
  • The email has a generic greeting, “Hi Dear.” If you have an account with the business, it probably wouldn’t use a generic greeting like this. 
  • The email invites you to click on a link to update your payment details.

While, at a glance, this email might look real, it’s not. Scammers who send emails like this one do not have anything to do with the companies they pretend to be. Phishing emails can have real consequences for people who give scammers their information. And they can harm the reputation of the companies they’re spoofing.

How To Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks?

  1. Set the devices and security software to update automatically so they can deal with any new security threats. 
  2. Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication. Some accounts offer extra security by requiring two or more credentials to log in to your account. This is called multi-factor authentication. Something like a passcode you get via an authentication app or a security key or like a scan of your fingerprint, your retina, or your face. 
  3. Back up your data regularly and make sure those backups aren’t connected to your home network. Use an external hard drive or cloud storage. Back up the data on your phone, too.

What To Do if You Suspect a Phishing Attack?

If you get a suspicious email or a text message that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment. Don’t click any of the links and contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the email. Attachments and links can install harmful malware. 

What To Do if You Responded to a Phishing Email?

If you think a scammer has your information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, go to IdentityTheft.gov (US) or https://cybercrime.gov.in/ (IND) to report. You will see the specific steps you need to take based on the information you lost. 

If you think you clicked on a link or opened an attachment that downloaded harmful software, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan. 

How To Report Phishing?

If you got a phishing email or text message, report it. The information you give can help fight the scammers.  

Step 1. If you got a phishing email, forward it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at reportphishing@apwg.org

If you got a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).  

Step 2. Report the phishing attack to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.  

For Indian users: Report to https://cybercrime.gov.in/  or 155260 (National Helpline)

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