It’s surprising to me that people still fall for the gimmick, when criminals send out mass emails requesting personal information and unsuspecting people freely give it. Phishing is just a method to confuse and trick people into divulging information to help criminals steal their money. Reports suggest that the number of people tricked via this method has gone way down over the last few years, as people are getting the message and don’t respond. Most of those messages end up in my junk mail folder, and I never see them. Phishing is a little different than the other more targeted spear phishing. I’ll address that one next time.
But unfortunately lots of people bite and end up losing all of their money. Even though the number of SPAM has gone down slightly, in 2013, the number of phishing schemes went up threefold, and it’s something that many security software programs like Norton and Mcafee don’t always catch. These programs look for keywords, but the scammers are getting more clever and craft emails that don’t always look as expected. I like what Bank of America is doing to help customers know when their email communication is legitimate. They have a feature called Security Checkpoint. Even though Bank of America doesn’t ever ask for personal information in their emails, they want customers to always know that when they receive an official email from the company. In the message, they always indicate a statement telling the customer the last time they logged into their online account.
According to the FBI, phishing schemes net criminals several million dollars every year. Most of that is due to people being greedy, thinking that there really is a large inheritance with no viable heirs to claim it, or they’ve won a foreign lottery or sweepstake (they won even though they never submitted an entry or bought a ticket), and other schemes that trick consumers into giving strangers their banking information or their social security and date of birth, which schemers use for identity theft purposes.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center handles hundreds of complaints every year. If you think you may have been a victim, even if you didn’t lose any money, go ahead and file a complaint. Every piece of information could be a necessary lead to help identify a suspect and get them caught.