Pushing back against phishing scams
Recognizing a phishing scam
Always check the sender's email address and telephone number: the email address must match the URL of the company they are claiming to be. Email phishing scams will always be sent from an untraceable Gmail/Hotmail type of account. If you have received mailed materials, check the email/telephone number of the company they claim to be, by going to that company’s website. Hint: they will never match up.
Pay attention to the body of the email: Be aware of typos and/or poor syntax; how they write their English. Often coming from a person whose English is a second language, or an English first language person with a poor education, phishing emails or print materials regularly contain spelling and grammar errors. It is also common upon visual inspection of the email, or if the phishing scam is by hard mail, that the layout of what you received contains a poorly framed visual, a grainy logo that does not match the page. Pay attention to these elements.
Ask yourself about the context of the email: Was it expected? Have you ever heard of a legitimate company being framed in the scam, have you ever done prior business with them? If you cannot answer yes, then it clearly does not pass the ‘sniff test.’
If you are not expecting an email, a call, or even a letter from the sender or caller, be cautious!
The right behaviors to adopt:
Do not open emailed links from sources you don’t know and especially do not download attachments from sources you don’t know.
Check the information against the company being used in the scam via a recognized communication channel such as the company’s website telephone number. Call the named company by going to their website for a phone number and calling them to confirm it is a scam.
Check to see if they belong to an Association and if so, call the association to confirm their affiliation.
Upon confirming the email is fraudulent, file it as spam/block the sender.
Train yourself! Be aware of this eventuality. Fortune 100 companies to independent businesses are regularly seeing their logos used to send phishing emails and/or print materials to dupe consumers into believing they’re real. Don’t fall for it!
Don’t expect the Federal Trade Commission, the local police, or the FBI’s fraud Department to directly help with your situation. They have thousands of complaints to deal with every year. You are your own best security by being smart about identifying scams and not becoming involved.