Scammers are vicious. If you don’t get smart, you’ll get got. Here are seven of the most devious ploys from online hucksters trying to con you out of your information, or worse.
1. Masquerading as some kind of consumer preference survey, this phishing scam tries to trick users into divulging their personal information. They offer free gifts, among other suspicious claims. As a rule, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
2. Wow. This one is devious. It’s common for phishers to make a small, seemingly innocuous request. In this case, the scammer wants to know when you’re free for a phone call. Very sneaky, but a hallmark of an online con! Do not fall for this one!
3. Here’s one of the most insidious hoaxes the internet has ever created! To establish trust, the scammer says he/she just wants to talk, nothing more. But this is just a ruse to trick you into surrendering valuable information. Delete the email as soon as you receive it.
4. Perhaps the most common phishing tactic of all is to open with an intentionally vague question like “Are you okay?” or “Will you at least tell us where you are?”—requests that could mean literally anything. Don’t play the phishers’ game. Ignore this. One way to deal with such persistent cybercriminals is to set up an email filter that automatically screens any message they send.
5. Fear-mongering at its worst. Referring to a previous email exchange that may or may not even exist. Threatening to bring in a third party. An unsolicited private question. Don’t fall prey to any of it.
6. Do not say anything. As tempting as it may be to engage the phisher in conversation, do not even open an email that begins like this, or you risk losing all your data and applications from your phone, computer, or tablet device.
7. From the impersonal salutation to the different font in the fill-in-the-blank date field, this one has all the hallmarks of a form letter, likely blasted out to thousands of email addresses in the hopes that even one rube will be taken in by the phishing scam. Don’t be that rube.