The Growing Threat of Phishing: Protecting Yourself Against Cybercriminals

Phishing is a scam that criminals have been utilizing with great success since the internet’s rise in popularity and accessibility in the 1990s. While fraudsters have used this technique for decades, it continues to grow by leaps and bounds, year after year. This month, we are taking a closer look at the crime of phishing, the impact that it has in today’s world, and ways that your account holders can identify and avoid phishing schemes in their everyday lives.

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The Growing Threat of Phishing:
Protecting Yourself Against Cybercriminals

In the recently released 2022 Internet Crime Report by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), it has become evident that cyber actors continue to plague Americans, with dollar losses escalating by 49%. Among the staggering number of complaints received by the IC3, over 37% were related to phishing attacks. Phishing has emerged as the single most prevalent category of cybercrime, causing significant financial losses, particularly among citizens aged 60 and older. This article delves into the origins of phishing, its evolution into a top hacking category, and offers essential tips to help protect you from falling victim to these malicious schemes. 

Understanding Phishing

Phishing is a technique employed by cybercriminals to deceive individuals into divulging sensitive information or installing malware on their devices. This method is executed through various channels such as phone calls, emails, SMS texts, or even social media messages. The term "phishing" was coined in the late 1990s when hackers began using email lures to "fish" for passwords and financial data from unsuspecting internet users.

The Evolution of Phishing

The concept of illegal hacking began in the 1970s, long before the introduction of the internet, with a scam called “phone phreaking” or simply “phreaking”. This form of hacking used machine-driven audible tones to manipulate telephone systems in order to make free phone calls around the world. By the late 1990s, when hackers began using lures to “fish” for passwords and financial data from unsuspecting internet users, they coined the phrase “phishing”, as an homage to their criminal predecessors of the 1970s.

Over the past two decades, phishing has become increasingly sophisticated, pervasive, targeted, and costly. In 2022 alone, the IC3 reported losses of $52 million due to phishing attacks. It is worth noting that unreported losses from such incidents are significantly higher, making it crucial to stay informed about the latest phishing techniques and safeguard oneself against these threats.

Types of Phishing Attacks

Avoid and Identify Phishing Attempts

And remember, if you feel that you are at risk of identity theft, make sure that you have activated monitoring of your credit to be alerted as quickly as possible to credit fraud. But, don’t rest there. Be vigilant in watching your checking account transactions and watch for suspicious postal mail that may indicate fraudulent accounts opened in your name. If you feel you could be a victim of identity theft, we have you covered! With <EMBEDDED ACCOUNT> you have access to Fully Managed Identity Theft Recovery Services. We can provide a professional Identity Theft Recovery Advocate to help you rescue your good name!

Social Media Content

Use the social media posts below throughout the month to increase account holders’ awareness of the risks associated with phishing scams.

Post #1: Phishing, Vishing and Smishing - these are all different varieties of the same scam. Criminals are using email, phone and even SMS text to mimic reputable organizations and trick you into sharing your personal or financial information. Stay vigilant, and always verify the source. #PhishingScams #YourProtectionPartner  

Post #2: “Your account has been cancelled.” Don’t believe the hype. “Cancel” messages are a great way for scammers to get you to click on a link. Always log in to your social media or subscription accounts directly to check your status, and do NOT click on links sent to you from suspicious sources. #PhishingScams #YourProtectionPartner 

Post #3: If you receive a voicemail from a government agency about a warrant for your arrest or a lapse in your benefits, be aware that this type of scam is on the rise. A government agency will never call or text you and request a money transfer to correct an issue. #PhishingScams #YourProtectionPartner