I am in an airport in route to Oaxaca, Mexico. It’s a much anticipated month of Spanish immersion for me. I expect to return relatively fluent in February! My mind is clearly elsewhere, but I did want to share something important with you. It’s about Phishing attacks on your online accounts.
Phishing is what an evil hacker does to gain access to your various online accounts and drain them of any resources. It usually begins with an email from some online portal that your recognize: your bank, an online vendor, your mortgage company, Amazon – something like that. The message will say they are updating their records and need you to log in and verify your details. There’s usually a link that takes you to a page where you input your username and password . . . and, Bingo! You’ve just given that information to the hacker. Most of us know NOT to fall for this, and if there is ever a question about such a solicitation, to call the vendor and verify that the message is from them.
Yesterday, though, my friend, Dick, told me of a message he received that was clever and different. It was from ‘PayPal’ and they were writing to notify him of a $650 charge on his account. Dick hasn’t used PayPal in years, so he was surprised and followed the link to view the receipt. Of course, he had to log in with his password first . . . and they had him. The ‘Receipt’ made no sense, so he called PayPal and they were able to freeze his account before any damage was done.
I am impressed with the craftiness of this trick. I thought about how I’d react if I was told there was a charge against one of my accounts. My blood pressure would go up and I’d be hell-bent on straightening it out. I’d probably do exactly what Dick did! Be smart – anytime an email sends you somewhere to ‘Log In’, question it FIRST.