A phishing attack is an online scam in which a fraudster sends an email that appears to be from a reputable source with the goal extracting personal information from the target. Once such information is obtained, criminals use it in several ways, one of which is to commit identity theft. In this article, we examine phishing attacks and identity theft.
Identifying Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks share several characteristics. Some of the telltale signs of phishing attacks include:
The email requests sensitive information: Companies don’t send customers emails requesting passwords, credit card data, or other personal information. Therefore, the receipt of an email that requests such information is a sign that a phishing attack may be underway.
The email is poorly written: Another sign that an email may actually be a phishing attack is if it is poorly written. It is rare for a legitimate organization to send out an email that contains bad grammar and poor punctuation.
The email contains a suspicious attachment: Phishing attacks are often conducted with the assistance of malicious email attachments. Fraudsters use such attachments to install viruses on victims’ computers and to direct them to URLs that mimic the websites of legitimate organizations.
The email incites fear: One characteristic of many phishing scams is that they attempt to create a sense of urgency on the part of the recipient. Often, this is done by inciting fear. For example, a phishing email may claim that a recipient’s bank account will be closed if he or she fails to click on a link or provide certain information.
The email claims the recipient won something: One way that fraudsters attempt to steal information through phishing emails is by promising an award or prize of some sort. Therefore, any message that purports to offer something for free should always be viewed with suspicion.
The email claims to be from a government agency: Finally, the government doesn’t generally contact people directly. In addition, government agencies don’t request information via email. Unfortunately, however, phishing scammers often claim to be government agencies in an attempt to solicit personal information from victims.
Protecting Yourself from Phishing Attacks
In addition to recognizing the above common signs, the following actions can provide protection from phishing attacks:
- Install security software on your computer
- Schedule automatic software updates
- Enable multi-factor authentication
- Back up all data on your devices
Contact a Consumer Class Action Lawyer
In addition to directly targeting victims, phishing attacks are often directed at organizations that store people’s personal information. And when an entity releases people’s private information without their permission, it should be forced to compensate those who suffer losses as a result. If your personal information has been exposed, experienced attorney Seth Lehrman is here to help you seek compensation. Please contact us today to schedule an a free consultation with our experienced class action lawyer.