consumer affairs bermuda

Don't get caught out by phishing

06/24/2011 | FRIDAY, JUNE 24: The English writer Douglas Adams wrote, “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands”. I believe what Mr Adams was suggesting is that some things should be self-evident or quite obvious.

This can be said about a lot of things, but not necessarily so with scams.

While most local residents have gotten smarter about recognizing scams and protecting themselves, scammers are getting very clever and as a result, are still managing to scam unsuspecting people.

One very popular scam is ‘phishing’ — a fraud scam designed to steal your personal and financial information.

This is most often done via e-mail, websites and phone calls.

The sole purpose of this scam is to steal money.

E-mails

E-mails linking to websites are the most common form of phishing.

Most of us have seen them — e-mails that claim to be from a business or organization that we deal with, such as an Internet Service Provider, a bank or an online payment service.

The words they commonly use are ‘update’, ‘validate’, or ‘confirm’ your account information.

Legitimate companies, including ISPs, never ask for this information via e-mails or pop-up adverts.

Another very common e-mail comes in the form of a personal request from some relative of a chief in a tribe in some foreign country, requesting your help in claiming a large sum of money they have inherited.

In return you are promised a large sum of money for assisting.

First, we rarely ever receive something for nothing, and second, if this poor soul needed help getting millions of dollars, they are unlikely to contact a perfect stranger to assist.

Some e-mails even threaten disastrous consequences if you do not respond.

The message may also direct you to a website that looks official and legitimate.

While surfing the Internet you may also get pop-up messages asking you to click on the link to verify or update your account information.

Remember the following tips:

Bad spelling and grammar

Cybercriminals usually have poor grammar and spelling. Most professional, legitimate organizations have their information edited before it goes out to the public.

Attachments and links in e-mails

Only open attachments you are expecting or ones you are aware of what is in them. If you see a link in a suspicious e-mail message, do not click on it.

Threats

Cybercriminals often use threats that your security has been compromised and your e-mail or bank account will be closed if you do not respond accordingly. This information can easily be verified by making a few phone calls.

Telephone phishing

Be wary of all unsolicited phone calls and do not provide any personal information.

Report it

In addition to stealing personal and financial information, phishers can infect computers with viruses and convince people to participate unsuspectingly in money laundering.

Whether you are a victim of phishing or not, report any incidents to your IT department, and tell the company or agency whom the phisher was impersonating.

You can also report it to the Bermuda Police Financial Crime Unit.

There is an abundance of information on the Internet about phishing — just go to Google and type the word ‘phishing’ in the search field. Do not wait until you become a victim.

Remember — legitimate businesses do not send you e-mails asking you to update, confirm or validate personal and financial details.