Popular Phishing Scams in 2019
Phishing scams have become one of the biggest cyberattack problems of the 21st century; as of 2019, these type of scams total in a whopping financial data breach cost of $3.86m. Moreover, 15% of the people who have fallen victim to a phishing scam will likely be phished at least once again. Unfortunately, it is difficult to stop the phishing scam epidemic because nearly 1.5 millions new phishing websites are created every month. However, that does not mean that you cannot fight the problem on your own; to avoid becoming a victim of phishing scams, you need to know the most common types of these scams and how to avoid them.
What is a Phishing Scam?
A phishing scam is a type of cyber attack that usually uses email or phone calls to cheat people out their credit information, banking data, social security number, and other personal information. Once the scammer gets his hands of the information he needs, he will usually use it to steal money from the victims he phished.
To con people and get them to hand over their personal information, a phisher will disguise himself/herself as a legitimate entity, like the IRS. Phishers are very convincing, and that is why so many people believe them and their disguises. So, now that you know what is a phishing scam, you can get to know the most common types of phishing scams and how to avoid them.
1. IRS Phishing Scam
During the hectic tax season, a lot of people fall into phishing scams that can cause them to lose some major bucks. It is reported that there are more than 2,000 IRS scams between January and October, so you need to be very cautious during this time of the year. How are these phishing scams performed? The scammers call people and pretend they are calling on behalf of the IRS. IRS phishers will also send emails pretending they are from the IRS and saying they need banking information, confirmation, to make sure the person's social security number, etc. Naturally, people will feel nervous when they receive a message from the IRS, especially during tax season.
To avoid problems with the IRS, many people give out their personal information when IRS phishers call them up, and they end up getting robbed. It is important to know that the IRS will never send you an email or call you to ask for immediate payment of any kind. They will send you a letter via the post office at first, and if you do not respond or pay what you need, only then will they contact you. So, if you get a call from the IRS demanding payment, credit card numbers, or other payment info, hang up – that is not the IRS.
2. Netflix Email Phishing
If you have a Netflix account and they need to contact you via mail, they will send email through their official address - firstname.lastname@example.org. If you receive email from Netflix asking you to update your payment method and payment data, make sure that the email is the one listed here. If not, do not reply to the mail, do not open any links, and don’t hand out personal information. The rising popularity of Netflix, which now has millions of subscribers in the US, has caused phishers to pretend they are from the company. So, make sure you don't provide your Netflix data to an email address that is not official. If you made changes to your accounts, and you think the email may be legitimate, call the Netflix customer support service and ask if you need to provide them with any information.
3. Shmishing (SMS Phishing)
The nickname of SMS phishing may sound funny, but there is nothing funny about becoming a victim of these scams. SMS phishing scams are very popular, especially in a day and age where practically everyone has a mobile phone, and service providers use texting to communicate with their customers. A phishing scam looks just like a service text; you get an SMS that asks you to call a phone number or click on a link to get a prize, contact someone, view information you need to see, etc. If you get these types of texts, do not open them, do not call the numbers they include and do not click on any link. If you do, the phishers will tap into your phone and get personal information about you that is linked to your phone number, like your name, address, credit information, and more.
4. Purchase Confirmation Phishing
The holiday season is another prime season for phishers who take advantage of the shopping craze during this season. In most of the cases, the phishers will send you an email that is supposedly sent to you from two of the biggest shopping websites in the U.S. – eBay, and Amazon. Phisher emails like this will ask you to click on a link to confirm your purchases. If you click these links, they may install malware on your computer that will siphon your information. If you ordered something from these websites, log into them to see if there are any confirmation messages regarding your purchases. If you did not order anything, log into your account to see if maybe someone made purchases in your name. In either case, do not automatically click on links that are sent to you from shopping websites. It could be risky.
Scammers have evolved over the years, and they use technology and trending things to get their hands on people's information. The four phishing scams we listed here are the most common 2019 phishing scams, but there are others. To protect yourself, never give out information to someone who calls you, so not follow links, and if you think contact attempts with you are legitimate, contact the company or authority that supposedly tried to contact you to make sure. The more you know the more you can protect yourself, so make sure to keep your guard up at all times and stay updated on scamming methods.