Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is a term used to describe a certain type of identity theft. Criminals send out emails as bait for unsuspecting consumers designed to resemble popular or trustworthy sites and companies. The goal is to lure the victim into clicking a malicious link or opening an email attachment. The link or attachment may threaten that an account will be deleted or altered if personal information is not verified, thus luring the individual to divulge personal information. Some attachments may contain a virus or malware for hackers to exploit in the future. And it’s not just computers that are vulnerable; there are even some reported cases of mobile phones being attacked through phishing emails. Many are very convincing and well loaded with data, graphics, or even personal information to look as legitimate and enticing as possible. Some phishing emails even use a target’s name, title, company, work phone number, and more.
Many phishing emails include some sort of threat to grab the reader’s attention and cause concern.One example may be a threat that your account will be terminated or deleted if you do not respond.
A link in the email may take the victim to a legitimate looking website that asks for personal information in order to “verify” the user. Other times it may list a phone number to call. In reality, the criminals are gathering information to use for malicious purposes.
The following is a hypothetical example of a phishing email:
Every email you receive should be read with discretion, especially if that email is asking for information.
Phishing emails look legitimate because they are designed to deceive. They may appear to come from companies you frequent or have accounts with, or even from your friends. Many even include company logos, graphics, or quotes to add to the deception. Here are some things to look for to protect yourself and make a better decision.
So how can you know if an email is truly legitimate and a threat is real?
What if you receive a phishing email? The answer is simple, delete it and don’t click on any links. If possible, report the email as noted above so the criminals are identified and others may not fall victim.
The following video offers more information on recognizing and avoiding phishing emails.
Read over the following websites and answer the questions below. (These sites are safe, trust me)
1. What is meant by phishing? Why is it spelled this way?
2. According to Internet records, when was the first published mention of “phishing”?
3. What can you do to prevent identity theft from a phishing email scam?
4. If you receive an email that appears to be from your bank and has the bank’s official
logos and graphics, can you assume that it is legitimate and safe to respond? Explain.
5. What are some ways you can tell that an email is potentially a phishing scam?
6. What should you do if you believe an email may be a phishing scam?
7. If you were asked to speak at the next PTA/PTO meeting and discuss what you have
learned about phishing emails, what would you say in your speech?