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Welcome to the ProtectMyID Blog

Lessons and stories from the front lines of fighting identity theft.


Phishing Scams: How to Spot and Avoid Them

Oct 19

By Linda Foley, Founder, ITRC

By definition, a “phishing” scam is an attempt to trick you into supplying one of the following pieces of information:  Social Security number (SSN), bank account information, credit/debit numbers or any other items that a thief could use to commit identity theft.  Think of it this way:  They are fishing for food and your information is dinner.

These scams may be by telephone or an email/text format.  The best way to avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam is to not respond in any way.  Hang up on suspicious, unsolicited callers and delete all phishing emails.

Phishing scams come in a variety of formats, but the intent is the same, “fishing” for information.  While some may appear to be threatening, others may come across as legitimate:

  • Your bank account will be closed unless you click on the following link to verify your information   (it looks like it comes from your bank, but the link is not valid)
  • You will be arrested or a warrant will be issued because you forgot to attend jury duty, and must now provide your SSN.
  • A credit card company is calling to verify a purchase and wants you to provide the credit card number to make sure they are talking to the right person (think about it – shouldn’t they know it already if you ask which one?)
  • The database at a company has been erased or destroyed and they are rebuilding it.  They want your information so that service will not be interrupted.  (If that were true, how did they know your phone number?)
  • You won the lottery or a great prize and just need to pay the taxes.  They ask you to provide your SSN, and the money is yours. (Sometimes they ask you to click on a second site).

These are just a few examples but you can see the goal is the same.  Be sure to be the fish that got away.

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