By Catherine Powell
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
The ongoing war being wrought by hackers has been taken to a new level with a triad of tricks designed to make you cough up personal data, financial info, and credit card numbers. Unlike many of the brute force techniques employed in the past, phishing, smishing, and quishing are meant to kill you with kindness by offering fantastic deals that are never delivered. Some of them are so intricately crafted that you'll think you're working with a trusted entity only to find out after the fact that you've been had. Before you fall for any of these false flag attacks, I'd like to take the time to educate you on the latest and greatest e-scams yet to have been invented.
Don't get hooked by these phishermen.
While phishing, AKA being sent bogus emails, isn't something new, this year's bumper crop of offers are tailored to make you think you're dealing with a trusted entity like Geek Squad, Microsoft, or the US government. Should you fall for these ruses and click on the attached link, get ready to have malware delivered to your device that can harvest credentials and passwords or deliver ransomware that will hold your data for hostage. Some of the latest lies include lures inviting you to profit from class action lawsuits, employee termination notices, holiday greetings, bank account notices, browser updates, fraud alerts, refunds, and more. For a comprehensive list of the latest phishing scams, click on this link to the University of California New Phishing Threats page
How do you avoid falling for phishing lures? Phishermen spin you tales designed to make you think that:
- There's a problem with your account or payment. ( Click or call & you'll be sorry.)
- We've noticed suspicious activity. (Never trust the provided number or any link.)
- You owe money. (You certainly will if you respond to this lure.)
- If you don't respond to this, you'll be arrested. (The only person that should be arrested is the sender.)
- You've won! (The only winners are the con artists who profit from these bogus jackpots.)
- You're entitled to a rebate or refund. (You'll need a refund if you fall for this scam.)
- You need to update your payment info. (Do so only if you want to enrich a hacker.)
|Image courtesy Pexels|
- Never open an unsolicited text message.
- Scrutinize the name and phone number of the sender.
- Set up spam filters on your smartphone.
- Beware of any messages that create a sense of urgency or pose a threat.
- Be suspicious of messages that ask for personal or financial information.
- Never fall for offers of prizes, rebates, or refunds.
|Image courtesy Pexels|
- A con artist puts a fake QR code on parking meters that tells the public to pay for parking by clicking on the QR code. Should you fall for the bait, not only will this give the crooks your credit card information, but you'll probably wind up getting a ticket or being towed for failing to pay for parking.
- You enter a restaurant or retail store and find a QR code that offers you a discount for downloading the establishment's app. The problem is that a cybercriminal has placed a sticker containing a QR code over the real code. This directs you to a bogus website that asks you a lot of personal questions, only to tell you to download an app that's loaded with malware.
- Cryptocurrency or stock investment scams that promise to double or triple your money are popular quishing bait, as are romance scams that employ QR codes that purport to help you find romance.
- Avoid QR codes altogether.
- Check for tampering to make sure the code you click on hasn't been covered by a bogus one.
- Verify the URL address you're being sent to is the real deal.
- Install QR code scanner apps that help you spot and avoid dangerous websites.