Phishing: Don’t Get Hooked
Over the last fifteen years the use of the internet has exploded, to put it lightly. The number of total internet users has gone from 738 million in 2000, to around 3.2 billion in 2015*. Over this same period of time we have grown increasingly comfortable with the idea of sharing personal information online. We make purchases with our credit cards, take advantage of services like online banking, buy and sell items on craigslist, eBay, and other online marketplaces. We share photos of our families & friends, our vacations, and our homes.
There is no arguing that this technology and access to information has made our lives more convenient, dramatically increased the flow of information around the globe, and has brought us closer together. But as the number of users has risen, so has the number of people looking for creative ways to take advantage of that personal information. I know that if you are reading this article online, you are aware of things like Phishing, Malware, Viruses and Internet Scams, but even as someone who considers them-selves to be fairly tech-savvy, I find that as the internet evolves these traps become more sophisticated, and more difficult to spot.
Phishing scams are number one way that we see clients getting themselves into trouble online. These scams are often difficult to detect, and aim at obtaining personal information. Many newer phishing scams are designed to use the disguise of a company or organization with which you may actually have a relationship, and this is where they are most effective. Whether it is Apple, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Facebook, they use these brands to get you to click a link, and reveal personal data, login details, or credit card information.
Here are a few simple ways you can guard yourself against this common type of internet scam:
- Make sure you have a good junk mail filter. Most email services offer great tools for keeping these types of email form ever reaching your inbox, use them.
- Be extremely cautious of emails from senders you don’t recognize, or that ask for personal information or try and prompt you to act quickly.
- Do not click on links, or open attachments from senders you do not recognize.
- If you do click on a link in an email that you DO recognize, make sure that you take a look at the address bar to make sure you recognize the domain name to be that of the sender.
- When entering ANY personal information online make sure that you on a secure site, by looking to identify that the site is secure. Usually you can recognize this by looking for either a lock in the status bar of your browser, or an “s” at the end of the http portion of the URL. You will be looking for “https:” rather than “http:” this identifies the site as secure.
- Check your bank and credit card statements regularly, and make sure there are no transactions that you do not recognize.
We often see phishing scams that are brought to our attention by clients. These are emails that pretend to be from Wells Fargo, asking for personal information. Be aware that neither Gould Capital, nor Wells Fargo will ever contact you via email asking for personal information. If you are ever unsure about and email you receive from WF or anyone else that you assume is associated with your investment accounts, please feel free to call the office, we are always happy to help.