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May 9, 2019

Phishing. Smishing. Vishing. No Matter the Name, It’s All About Hooking You

Like you, hackers love the convenience of digital communications—now, they have so many ways to get at you. Emails and messaging apps (phishing), text messages (smishing), and robo calls (vishing). Different tricks all with the same aim of getting victims to unwittingly give up confidential information.

The Bait

You are notified about an important matter requiring your immediate attention and urged to act quickly. The message reports a suspicious login to your account; your password expired; or an invoice needs payment. The source looks real, like Microsoft or Nexflix, maybe even us.

The Hook

Whatever format the message takes, they always want you to provide confidential information, such as passwords or account numbers. Emails will have a link that opens a legit-looking “spoof” page or have an attachment; robo calls and text messages will give you a number to call. Respond and surprise! Hackers have your data.

Tips to Spot the Tricks

First, make sure security updates are current on all your devices. Then:

Be Suspicious.

  • Grow Financial and most reputable businesses will never contact you and ask to provide confidential information. That’s a big red flag.
  • Never open or download an attachment if it’s unexpected or comes from an unknown source. The attachment may contain malicious code or spyware.

Verify.

  • Look before you click. Run your cursor over any embedded links to see the full url and that it goes to the site you expect. Also check the address bar of any web pages you’re unsure of.
  • Carefully go over every landing page you open from an email source. Look for graphics or wording that’s out of place. You’re better off closing out the page and going straight to the legitimate site instead.
  • Secure websites always have “https” or a lock icon in the address bar.
  • Check any numbers you’re given to call by again going to the legitimate site.

And If You Are Hooked…

It may not be immediately obvious, but if you think hackers have your data:

  • Notify the legitimate business that your account may be compromised.
  • Immediately change all of your user names and passwords.
  • Check your account activity.
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service.
  • Have your devices checked.

Finally, don’t rush to respond. Take it slow and be sure the message is from a legitimate source. Just a few minutes of caution can save you from the headache of a lifetime.


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