Phishing: The threat in your pocket that could catch you out and cost you money

Phishing scams are becoming more sophisticated, so how can you identify a scam and protect your data?

Phishing: The threat in your pocket that could catch you out and cost you money

Simple steps can help keep you safe online

You may have received a call, text or email in recent times, claiming to be from a service provider, offering a refund or tax back. To claim the money, you need to click on a link and insert bank details. You know that saying “If it seems too good to be true then it probably is”? That applies here. This is the very definition of phishing.

Phishing is the term for online identity theft and fraud. Those behind the attacks seek to obtain the personal information of their victims, such as passwords, bank account information and credit card details by sending a spoof electronic communication from what looks like a legitimate source.

Clicking a link contained in such an email puts your information at risk.

In the last few weeks alone Irish Water, TVLicense.ie and multiple banks have been used as cover by the cybercriminals. This is just one of the many phishing emails I have received since January:

While it looks legit upon first reading, closer inspection shows that it is, in fact, 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's 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 dodgey, 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.