What is 'phishing' and how can you protect yourself?

Here are some things to look out for...

'Phishing' is the term given to phone calls, texts or emails that are used to steal information or money from victims. 

You may have received a call, text or email in recent times, claiming to be a service provider looking to give you a refund or with an 'urgent message'. To read this message or receive the refund, you must click on a link and insert details. 

This type of scam is being used more frequently now as increasing numbers of people conduct their daily business online. As time goes by, the scams and schemes are becoming more sophisticated, tricking more people into handing over their information. 

Just this week we saw Google fight to tackle a clever scam that used Google Docs as a cover. Over the last number of months I, personally, have received phishing emails from sources claiming to be Bank Of Ireland, Electric Ireland and TV License.  

This is just one of those emails. 

As you can see, the body of the email and the subject bar look legitimate. There are, however, some tell-tale signs that alerted me to the fact that this is a scam. 

Look at the email addresses: tv.licence.web=anpost(dot)ie(at)starhealthpuertorico(dot)com. 

While a large number of businesses are going paperless, it is very rare that a company will ever ask for personal information via email. If you are in doubt, suss it out.

Stay Safe:

These systems are becoming more sophisticated but there are a few simple things you can do to ensure you and your data stay safe.

  • Look for urgency: If the email states urgent action is required to verify your details or process a refund, do not act. Chances are it’s a phishing expedition.
  • Company info: Many of these phishing attempts involve criminals posing as a well-known company or bank. Always check the sender’s email address. Look at any logos within the email and hover your mouse over any link within the email (don’t click on it); this may show a falsified website. If it doesn’t look legit, bin it.
  • Spelling: Watch out for appalling typos or sentences that just don’t make sense. We often scan emails rather than reading them fully so if you are suspicious, take a moment or two to read the entire email. If you spot something that dodgy, bin it.
  • Verify: If you are still unsure about the legitimacy of an email, call the provider and explain your situation. This may take a few minutes out of your day, but it’s better than losing money to a phishing scam.