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November 21, 2022

Protect Yourself from the Latest Phishing Scams

We live in a digital world, and pirates have primarily moved from the high seas to the online landscape. Digital pirates send out billions of false messages in emails, text messages, phone calls, and social media ads every day as a part of phishing attacks in hopes of getting a few people to click a single link.

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So how can you protect your privacy and keep your family safe? By knowing the latest trends in phishing so you don’t get lured in! We’ll take a look at what a phishing scam is—and the many forms it comes in.

What is a phishing scam?

A phishing scam is when someone sends a message to you that contains a link intended to trick you into sharing personal information. The link can either automatically download malware to the computer system or deceive you into filling out a form of some sort to provide the scammer with your personal information.

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What are the types of phishing?

Not all phishing attacks are the same. You’ll find that malicious links come in from a variety of sources and take many different forms, for example:

“Regular” phishing. An email phishing scheme is likely the most common scam you’ll come across because billions of phishing emails are sent out daily worldwide. Some of these emails are easily recognized as scams, while others might seem like they’re legitimate emails. For example, you might receive one email with typos all over the place, or odd wording, and it’s from a business that you never even use. On the other hand, you could get an email that looks like it might be from a popular site like Amazon that requires more scrutiny to decide whether or not it’s legitimate.

Spear phishing. The difference between traditional phishing and spear phishing is that the attackers do more homework with spear phishing. Instead of sending out mass emails to everyone, these emails seem to come from a trusted friend, family member, business or brand that you know—and are targeted specifically to you. For example, you get an email from what appears to be your bank, your mom, or even your credit card company. Spear phishers will go to great lengths in order to get you to click their malicious link.

Whaling. Whaling goes after the “biggest fish” in the pond in hopes of gaining access to corporate executives. Say you’re a manager at a large corporation and you bring your laptop home on the weekends. Whaling scammers will reach out to you posing as your boss, or even your boss’s boss—with an urgent request, like asking you for your company’s login information, for example, because they’ve lost theirs and are stuck in a client meeting. Recently, a high-profile social media company fell victim to a whaling attack after an employee handed over sensitive payroll information at the request of the “CEO”, who turned out to be a phony.

Smishing and vishing. Scammers will try to find any way possible to reach their potential victims, which means even our mobile devices are at risk beyond scam emails. Smishing and vishing are phishing attacks that use text messages and voice messages, respectively, to try to scam individuals. The term smishing comes from SMS (short message services), which is the term for a text messaging platform. In comparison, vishing derives from voice messages or phone calls. Smishing is essentially the same practice as email phishing via text messages that ask for your feedback or a survey. Vishing phone calls can be either a robocaller or an individual looking to get you to divulge personal details like bank account information, credit card numbers, or your social security number. The caller might pose as someone from your bank, the Office of Social Security, or even the police making claims that your information is in grave danger.

Angler phishing. Three of the four most popular places where people spent their time online in 2021 were social media platforms YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Scammers know these things and target social media users with angler phishing scams. Angler scammers will pose as owners of reputable social media accounts like businesses, influencers, and others to try to convince users to share personal information.

Let’s say you’re scrolling your Facebook feed and see an ad for BOGO sunglasses. What a great deal! You click the link in the ad and go to what appears to be a reputable website and order your sunglasses that are supposed to be at your house within five to seven business days. Only, they never come, and you’ve been scammed by an angler phishing scheme.

An open laptop next to a steaming cup of coffee. On the laptop’s screen is a warning message asking if the user wants to open an email.
“Billions of phishing emails are sent out daily worldwide.”

What if I’m a victim of a phishing scam?

The first thing you need to make sure you do if you’re a victim of a phishing scam is to stay calm and don’t beat yourself up over it. Tens of thousands of people fall victim to these schemes every day. Should this happen to you, the next steps you should take depend on what information you shared. The basic steps would be to contact your bank and credit card companies, change passwords you might have shared, and go to Be sure to keep an eye on your credit to ensure no additional activity like the fraudulent opening of credit cards or major purchases. If your place of business is at risk, let them know what happened.

Ultimately, it comes down to staying vigilant. You can protect your personal information by knowing what to look for in emails, text messages, and on social media.

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