What you need to know about phishing scams in 2021

Brandon McCauley
Brandon McCauley
September 12th, 2021
scammer

While the rise of the Internet created many outstanding quality-of-life changes, it also unwillingly became an outlet for delinquency. In fact, online identity theft cases cost $502.5 billion in 2019 and increased 42% to $712.4 billion in 2020. While there is a plethora of methods at a cybercriminal’s disposal, one of the most potent and widely used is commonly referred to as “phishing.”

What is Phishing?

Phishing attacks typically come in the form of emails or text messages, often pretending to be from a reputable company or organization, that deceive recipients into handing over personal information. For example, a well-made phishing attempt could cleverly disguise itself as a social media’s “Forgot Your Password” email (as shown below), making it difficult for its targets to determine whether the email is legitimate or not. Other phishing attempts could come in the form of financial institutions, such as your bank or your credit card handler.

phishing-scam

How to Recognize Phishing

As previously mentioned, phishing attacks heavily rely on deception. They often send a provocative email or message that tricks the recipient into clicking a link or opening an attachment. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), phishing attacks can come in the form of:

  • Asking you to change your account’s password due to suspicious activity
  • Claiming there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
  • Asking you to confirm personal information
  • Providing a fake invoice
  • Asking you to make a payment
  • Offer you coupons for free items

How to Protect Yourself from Phishing

While most phishing attacks can be deterred by your email’s spam filters, others can make their way into your inbox. Fortunately for you, there are very simple ways to keep yourself safe:

  • Ask yourself if you have an account with the company in question. If not, you can delete the email or message.
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication on your accounts. Adding an extra layer of security mitigates the risk of phishing attempts from succeeding.
  • Utilize online security software that could detect phishing scams.
  • Backup your data to an external hard drive or cloud storage.

How to Report a Phishing Attempt

If you suspect that an email or message that you have received is a phishing attack, make sure to report it. Providing this information to the right resources could prevent others from potentially getting scammed.

  • If you received a phishing email, forward to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at reportphishing@apwg.org.
  • If you received a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).
  • Report the phishing attack to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov