What is phishing?
Phishing is the term used for any attempt made by a third party (“a scammer”) to gain your personal details.
The usual method for this is via email and the emails usually claim to be from banking organisations (PayPal is another), requesting that you click on a link to go the website and update your personal details.
The websites will be made to look genuine, down to the stolen image files. However, the information you type into the web page just collects your details (including your password) and the scammer can then login to your account and remove your funds.
What To Look Out For
There are usually pointers that give the game away when it comes to phishing emails and watching out for them can keep you from getting caught.
- A genuine email will address you by name – phishing emails do not. Spam mails will use generic terms like “customer”, or “member” as the scammer is just bulk mailing and cannot know who you are.
- The clickable link within the email may look like it is the web address of the organisation that the email is purporting to come from, BUT if you click on it, you will then be taken to a different website. So, ALWAYS check what you see in the address bar of your web browser (the bit after http://).
- Mostly likely poor spelling & grammer. Often mistakes are made with foreign spammers when translating.
It really is good practice when accessing your online accounts, that you open a new web browser and type the web address in yourself. Even then, double check your spelling, as you may have inadvertantly misstyped the address and someone has registered that domain waiting to catch you.
If in doubt, contact the organisation in question, via phone or email, and ask if they have sent you the suspect email.