[dropcap2]A[/dropcap2] Microsoft Researcher recently came out with an interesting study about Nigerian Phishing scams. In it, he discovered that the Nigerian Prince Scam has actually increased its success rate simply due to the fact that its notoriety has forced the scammers to better target their victims. The very small group of people that are unaware of the famed scheme are, unfortunately, those who will be the most susceptible to such a hoax. So today, their effort-per-victim has decreased significantly.

But the raised rate of awareness doesn’t mean that all types of phishing are this noticeable. In fact, the new phishing scams are much more sophisticated than they ever were before. They’ve not only replicated legitimate company’s email templates but the look of their websites as well. Phishers can send a fraudulent email that looks 100% legit and asks for you to update personal information. They’ll include a link to their fake website that also looks even better than the real deal: the same style, logos, navigation et cetera.  Then, it’s just a few clicks of a button before they collect your entered data and use it to steal your identity.

All this doesn’t mean you should unplug from the Internet and move off the grid. There are a couple of strategies we can implement to protect ourselves before we get to that point.

How to Protect Yourself From Phishers

  • Never Give Out Personal or Financial Information: Just like when you receive a phone call, no real business will ask for that kind of information over email.  So even if it looks real, don’t respond and don’t click through any links. Call the company directly if you are unsure.
  • Trust but Verify: Be wary of any email that asks you to do something in regards to your account. If it looks like your AT&T bill, check the address of the sender by hovering over their name. If it’s something like, icare7@customercare.att-mail.com, it isn’t real (after the @ symbol, it should only be att.com).  Next, hover over every hyperlink and see where it would send you before you click it. Also, if you received an email from someone you know and it seems a little fishy, don’t open any links or download any attachment (we recommend not opening any attachment unless you were expecting on getting an email with one). If you’re really curious, call the person that sent it to you and ask about it.
  • Go Straight to the Source: If you get a suspicious email, forward it to the authorities at spam@uce.gov. Most companies will also have information on their website about how to report criminals impersonating them.

With a healthy dose of caution, there’s no need for phishers to catch you in their net. And if you would like to learn more about how to protect yourself from phishers, feel free to contact us today.