Protect Yourself from Phishing Attacks!

Many of you know that I take frequent road trips. That’s why my vehicles have the EZ-Pass device on them. EZ-Pass automatically collects tolls on highways and bridges on the East Coast. (FYI, FasTrak is used on the West Coast. Here in Colorado we use ExpressToll.) When this article crossed my news feed, I was particularly interested.

“Phishing Scam Alert: There is a phishing email* being sent to drivers across the nation claiming they owe money for unpaid E-ZPass tolls.  This is not an email from The Toll Roads, the Transportation Corridor Agencies, E-ZPass or E-ZPass tolling agencies. E-ZPass is used to collect tolls electronically on the East Coast; FasTrak is used to collect tolls electronically on the West Coast.

ezpass logoIn fact, during the fourth quarter of 2015, phishing attacks saw a huge increase. As expected, financial institutions took the biggest hit, although any company is vulnerable.

Wikipedia has a good definition:

“Phishing is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.”

Remember that most phishing attacks come via email, so it is very important to remain vigilant about what links you click in the emails you receive. Even when an email looks legitimate, with accurate looking logos and links, if you have any doubt, don’t click!

Social Media is becoming another prime target for phishing. In fact, according to Ian Trump of LogicNow:

“One in five phishing attempts is made through social media. Some of these will be unsophisticated attempts to snare anyone who might miss-click, but others will be more targeted and try to fool people with specific information, attempting to drive the user to a fake website where they will enter their username and password. A compromised social media account has the potential to wreak further havoc, especially given the habit for people to use the same password over and over again for both work and personal accounts.” More info in this article.

Whenever you receive an email saying you owe an organization money, or they need to confirm your information, or anything that makes you wonder if it’s for real, be especially careful. Never click the link on the email. Instead, head to the website you’ve used before to check out the authenticity of the message. If you find that it is a phishing attempt, notify the company too.

Have you been exposed to phishing attacks? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area

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