Definition of phishing (Merriam-Webster dictionary)
: the practice of tricking Internet users (as through the use of deceptive email messages or websites) into revealing personal or confidential information which can then be used illicitly
Phishing scams are used by fraudsters to trick you into giving them your personal information, including bank account details, passwords and credit card numbers. They are becoming more sophisticated, often masquerading as legitimate companies and using real logos, and are often indistinguishable from the real company, so it is always sensible to remain suspicious.
Individuals and businesses can be the targets of these scams.
In the past, it might have been easier to spot scam emails as they were filled with spelling mistakes and poor grammar, but this is not the case nowadays.
Phishing emails may contain links that, when clicked, 'infect’ your computer with a virus. It’s important not to click any links, until you are sure the sender is legitimate.
Do and Don’ts to avoid phishing scams
- Do not reply to any spam mail asking you to confirm or update information about your account.
- Do not click any links, especially ones that request you to login, unless you were expecting to receive it and it is from a real company/contact.
- Do be careful opening attachments even if they appear to have been sent by an authorised entity.
- Do not send confidential account information by email, especially your bank details, as emails can be intercepted.
- Do install a firewall, anti-spyware or anti-virus software to protect your computer from any possible attacks.
- Do not respond to scam emails as they often request you to call a number that is usually untraceable. Only use contact details you have and not those listed on the phishing email.
- Do be suspicious and vigilant by checking the email address it has been sent from. Often the last part of the address doesn’t make sense or can have one letter different to the real company’s address, for example someone pretending to be from PayPal or Netflix may use email addresses like @paypail.com or @netfllix.com.
- Do not share passwords under any circumstances.
If you receive an email or fall victim to a phishing email, report it to the police or forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also contact the Jersey Office of the Information Commissioner (JOIC) on 01534 716530 or email email@example.com if you believe personal information has been compromised, lost or accessed without your consent.