How to Deal with Phishing Scams

  
     
Messages appear from organizations you do business with, but they're trying to steal your information.
March 02, 2017

Media contact: Tom Bartholomy, tbartholomy@charlotte.bbb.org

In the month of February, 83% of all scams posted had to do with phishing. Even BBB took the bait on one that purported to be from Square credit card processing. These scammers may appear to be from organizations you do business with -- banks, for example. They might threaten to close your account or take other action if you respond.

In an email, the links often direct you to spoof sites -- sites that look real but whose purpose is to steal your information so a scammer can run up bills or commit crimes your name. 

If it's a phone call, area codes can mislead. Some scammers ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a "refund." But a local area code doesn’t guarantee that the caller is local.

How to Deal with Phishing Scams

  • Delete email and text messages that ask you to confirm or provide personal information (credit card and bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords, etc.). Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email or text.
  • Don’t reply, and don’t click on links or call phone numbers provided in the message, either. 
  • If you’re concerned about your account or need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card.


How to Avoid a Phishing Attack

  • Use trusted security software and set it to update automatically. In addition, use these computer security practices.
  • Don't email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information.
  • Only provide personal or financial information through an organization's website if you typed in the web address yourself and you see signals that the site is secure, like a URL that begins https (the "s" stands for secure). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call to confirm your billing address and account balances.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other malware that can weaken your computer's security.