With people spending more time at home and online, “spear phishing” is growing in popularity as a scam used by unsavory individuals to get your personal information. Most of us know about “phishing,” which is a con scammers use to send spam emails and text messages to entice you to click on malicious links that take you to fake websites.
However, most people can easily identify “phishing” scams since the links are easily distinguishable from real website addresses. Now, with COVID-19 and more people spending more time online and working online from home, “spear phishing” takes things to another level.
Rather than targeting a large group of people in hopes someone takes the bait with “phishing” scams, “spear phishing” is targeted at specific individuals that can pinpoint you as a potential target.
How “Spear Phishing” Lures People In
A scammer looking to “spear phish” someone will spend countless hours trolling social media sites, blog pages, and other online sites to learn more about you. Any information you have posted publicly is fair game. If your social media sites are not locked down, you could be at an even greater risk.
Once the scammer knows all about you, your friends, and other details, it is not hard for them to get your email address or phone number. Then they start looking at any recent purchases you might have made, like that post where you said you scored toilet paper from Amazon.
Next, the scammer will send you an email or text message using that information to try to get you to click a link and obtain more sensitive information about you. Most of the emails and text messages appear to be legitimate, so a lot of people are being lured in. Once lured in, the scammer could have access to online accounts, banking info, PINs, and more.
How to Avoid Getting Lured In
There are several effective things you can do that are smart to avoid getting caught by a “spear phishing” scam including:
1. Don’t constantly “check-in” at different places on social media.
2. Don’t announce what purchases you may have made recently on social media.
3. Review your social media security settings to see who has access to what content.
4. Update your passwords on sensitive online accounts and vary them.
5. Never click on a link in an email or text message, even when it seems legitimate.
6. Always go to the source directly when in doubt.
7. Do not respond in the same email or text message thread.
By being smart and not reacting to “spear phishing” scams, you can keep your personal and sensitive information safer.
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