Phishing scams are getting harder and harder to spot. Gone are the days you could merely look for poor grammar or spelling errors. Evidently scammers have found software to correct those! Now, you will have to look even harder. But Google, or rather one of Alphabet’s companies, Jigsaw, is here to help you with that.
The company has created an online quiz to help you learn what you know, and what you don’t know, about spotting a phishing scam, as well as useful hints to take with you into your daily routine. But beware! Scammers have become much more sophisticated, and the subtle nuances can be pretty tricky! Take the quiz, and send it to your friends, to see who’s the best scam spotter.
State Laws Govern Phishing Scams
Phishing is a scam where fraudsters use emails or texts to lure you to deceitful websites aimed to get your personal and financial information. Once secured, they can make unauthorized purchases, take your money, and even steal your identity. About half of the states have laws specifically outlawing phishing, while other states prosecute phishing scams under computer crime, fraud, or identity theft. It’s not easy catching these slippery phish. And even when the authorities do, the damage will have already been done to you.
Tips From the FTC
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it’s very important that you always take steps to protect yourself online. Their top five tips are:
- Mouse over attachments or links in emails before clicking on them. Make sure the url is from a protected source. Files and links can contain malware which can weaken you computer’s security.
- Make your own calls and links. Don’t trust ones that are sent to you with hyperlinks. Sometimes scammers use logos to make it look like you are calling or linking to the real company, only to be re-routing you to them.
- Turn on two-factor authentication when available, which requires both your password and an additional piece of information, usually a code sent to your phone or email, to access your account.
- Back up all of your files on an external hard drive or cloud storage. If your computer is hacked, at least you will be able access information you’ve stored remotely.
- Keep all security software up to date. Though it’s easy to let subscriptions expire when you haven’t had issues, you’ll want to have it when the need arises.
If you do receive phishing emails or texts, file a report with the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. If you have been the victim of identity theft, or encountered any damages from phishing scams, contact a local consumer rights attorney. An experienced attorney can help you avoid most of the fraudulent charges a thief may rack up, and they may also be able to help you never be a victim again.