CHICAGO, IL - May 31, 2013 – Phishing occurs when criminals pretending to be from well-known, legitimate businesses or organizations contact individuals and trick them into revealing personal information such as Social Security numbers, financial or other personal information.
“Phishing is on the rise and consumers need to be aware that it is a threat to them virtually every day,“ said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, “Never give personal information out unless you are positive that you are not being scammed.”
In 2012, phishing was the fourth most common scam reported to the National Consumers’ League’s Fraud Center, as part of the category “Imposter Scams”.
Here are some warning signs of phishing:
· Poor spelling: It is likely that a company’s name will be misspelled in a phishing message. For example, Walmart recently released a warning to consumers about an email phishing scam that had a subject line of “Thanks for your Walmart.com order” from Wallmart.com (with two L’s). It is not likely that a legitimate company would spell their name wrong in a subject line or in an email address.
· Request for personal information: If you receive a request for information from a company that should already have your information, be wary.
· Scare tactics: If you are being asked to act immediately, it is likely a phishing scam.
Global losses in 2012 from phishing were $1.5 billion, according to the RSA February 2013 Fraud Report. This is a record high and a 22 percent increase from 2011. The total number of attacks was 59 percent higher than in 2011.
The BBB has come up with some tips for protecting yourself from phishing:
- Make sure your devices are secure. Protect yourself by having antivirus and antispyware software on your devices.
- Choose to click wisely. By clicking on a phishing message or ad, you could be exposing your personal information or downloading spyware to your device.
- Always keep your guard up. If your personal information is being requested, ask yourself why. Remember that phishing comes in multiple forms – phone calls, text messages, emails and advertisements. It is important to always be aware to avoid possible scams.
- Check your activity regularly. Try to check your bank accounts on a regular basis to watch for suspicious activity. If you see anything out of the ordinary, investigate the activity and report it if you think you may have been scammed.
If you experience or have experienced a scam, report it to your local BBB at www.bbb.org
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As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.