Understanding Phishing Scams

Recent research suggests that over the last five years, email malware is at an all-time high. It is estimated that phishing emails target more than 400 businesses every single day. Such email scams are expensive and have caused internet users to lose roughly $4 billion over the last three years. One of the main reasons that these email scams are so successful is that adapt and evolve; they are constantly changing making it difficult for users and software to keep up with them. What may seem like a typical email actually turns out to be quite harmful. Below are some of the more common email scams that are currently circulating and tips on how to avoid them.

The “Order Confirmation” Phishing Scam from Amazon

Online shopping is extremely popular now due to having access to a wide array of products right at your fingertips; however, many people are cautious when making purchases online from fear of their personal information being stolen. The criminals who developed the Amazon email scam know this, and they play on your fear by sending their victims what looks like a real Amazon order confirmation email with the phrase, “If you haven’t authorized this transaction, go to the Help page for a full refund.” The email looks authentic; it contains the Amazon logo and other company information making it appear legit. Because it looks so real the scammers end up tricking their victims into providing their Amazon login information, thereby they easily obtain access to their victims’ account information containing bank account details and other personal information.

Amazon is completely aware of this scam and is doing everything they can to make people aware of it. They have developed a guide that tells their customers how to spot suspicious emails by providing tips of what to look for, such as checking the return email address and checking for smelling and grammatical errors.
If you believe you have received one of these emails, please forward it to stop-spoofing@amazon.com

The “Update Info” Netflix Scam

Netflix has a huge customer base estimated at roughly 100 million subscribers worldwide. The vast number of customers makes it highly likely that some will fall victim to this email scam. Earlier this year, hackers took advantage of this and implemented a large-scale email scheme that targeted Netflix’s online subscribers. Subscribers have reported receiving an email that looked legit (like the Amazon email scam) with a link that took them to a page that resembled an actual Netflix page and asked them to update their information. Of course, Netflix never sent this email and the webpage was fake. Once subscribers entered their account information, scammers now had easy access to their personal accounts and banking information.

Netflix is currently aware of the problem and has stated that the company is taking the issue seriously. They are proactively working on ways that help to detect any fraudulent activity.

Tips on How to Spot an Email Scam

Email scams are very convincing. They sound official and they look like they’re really from the company the scammers are pretending to be. You should always be cautious, however, with any email asking you to click on a link or provide your personal information, such as account numbers or banking information. Below are some tips to help you determine if an email is real or if it is a scam:

  • Always check for spelling, grammatical, or typographical errors.
  • Always analyze the sender’s email address.
  • Check if the email addresses you correctly by name. See if your name is misspelled or if it addresses you by the wrong name.
  • Follow your gut feelings. Sometimes you just get a feeling that something doesn’t look or feel right. Don’t ignore that feeling!
  • Have a secure messaging system that scans your emails and helps detect fraudulent messages.
  • Implement a security training program in your organization to help employees be aware of what to look for and to help them realize that these threats are serious.

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