Cybercrooks just won't give it a rest with the phishing scams. With emails or texts, scammers will try to trick you into giving up your logins, passwords and credit card numbers, or they'll include seemingly innocent links designed to install various types of malware.
It's been going on so long, you would think we would be able to spot this kind of scam a mile away. But new twists are constantly added to old methods, and while some phishing attempts are obvious, others can still trip you up if you let your guard down.
They'll try to fool you into excitement by saying you've won a new car, or they'll simply use fear. In many cases, they'll pretend to be a company you know with a seemingly simple request - like this phishing email that appears to come from Netflix.
Your Netflix payment details
Let's say you're in the middle of watching "Bird Box" or catching up on the latest episodes of "The Ranch" when you get an email saying your Netflix account is being put on hold due to payment issues. *gasp* You need to take care of this quickly, because there's no time for a break. There's just too much for you to binge-watch. And that's what cybercriminals are counting on.
Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning about a phishing email that - on the surface - looks like it's from Netflix. In their blog (click here to read), they referenced this Facebook post by a police department in Ohio.
"We're having some trouble with your current billing information" and your account is now on hold, the email reads. And there's a big red link for you to update your payment method. The real Netflix will never ask that any personal info be sent over email. Read more in their Help Center by clicking or tapping here
Don't fall for it
If you get an email like this, don't click on any links. It will likely take you to a page just waiting for you to enter your account details, credit card number or other personal info. That link might also install malware that takes over your device. It might do both.
And keep in mind spam filters won't catch every nefarious email. Phishing emails might look like they come from businesses or individuals you know. But there are clues to look for if you're suspicious about any digital correspondence. We'll use the Netflix phishing email as an example. It might look official, but read it more closely.
- Netflix is based in America, but see how the text in the email has the British spelling of "Centre." That also doesn't look like a domestic phone number.
- Look for other spelling and grammatical errors. That's another big clue that it originated overseas and was authored by someone who doesn't speak English very well.
- Another tell is if your name isn't included. "Dear Sir," "Dear Madam," or the above "Hi Dear" should serve as a big red flag.
If you're just not sure it's legitimate, avoid the links and navigate directly to the business website or verify the phone number.
Report phishing attempts by contacting the FTC. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ftc.gov/complaint. You can also email email@example.com, used by the Anti-Phishing Working Group. If you get an email that looks like it's from Netflix, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FTC even has a game to test your knowledge about phishing. Check it out by clicking or tapping here
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This is a familiar spin on an old trick, but it's a good remind how to recognize bogus email scams.