TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Just ahead of the holiday season, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has warned residents to not fall for phishing expeditions.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he has heard and read about a growing threat of cyber criminals lurking to scam, fraud and steal personal information to access finances. He said this is a good reminder of the caution that must be taken on the internet.
AG Schmidt said one of the most common forms of cybercrime is a phishing scam. Similar to the outdoor activity, he said scammers and fraudsters use tricks of the trade to bait victims into giving them access to information, sensitive data and money. It is a crime that affects private residents and businesses every day.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, $57 million was lost to phishing scams in 2019 alone.
Schmidt said phishing schemes are disguised as legitimate email and text messages with information residents believe they are supposed to open. However, these messages are modern-day Trojan horses that allow the scammer access to personal information, finances or computer systems to cause great harm.
While scammers and fraudsters constantly hone their abilities, Schmidt said the following are some typical signs to help recognize a phishing expedition:
- Familiar Names – Phishing emails or texts can look like they are from a known or trusted company such as a bank, credit card company, social networking site, online store or online payment site. Often the address in the message has been slightly changed in a way that is not immediately recognizable like using a different domain name or juxtaposition of keywords.
- Storytelling – Phishing emails or texts usually tell a story to trick the reader into clicking a link or opening an attachment. The scammer will try to convince the recipient that there is a big problem with their computer or account, usually looking for verification of financial information or account data. This could also include a false invoice to make a payment. Several Microsoft scams have been used and say that the software company is aware of issues with a computer and the recipient’s money must be moved to a new bank account to avoid hackers.
- Take a look at this – Scammers often send links that look like a news story, video or meme when it is actually laced with viruses and malware that infect computers or provide hidden access to data, passwords and personal information.
- Do I know you – If the account, sender, email or text looks suspicious, delete it without opening it. If the sender is not recognized, contact the company or individual using the phone number or website known to be real, not the information in the email.
Schmidt said the good news is that there are ways to protect finances from these unwelcome practices. First, he said to make sure computers are protected by security software. Set the software to update automatically in order to stay current with new emerging threats. Phones should also be set to have the software automatically updated to protect against security risks.
According to Schmidt, residents should always use a multi-factor authentication process for accounts. This means using two or more ways to verify a user’s identity – something you know like a password or PIN, something you have like a token or smart card, and something you are like a biometric fingerprint. He also said it is a good idea to backup data on a device that is not connected to a home or work network like an external hard drive.
When someone gets these suspicious messages, Schmidt said they should report the information to service providers who have procedures in place to address these types of texts and emails. Residents can report suspicious emails by contacting either their provider or the sender’s provider if it is known. In the report, the resident should make sure to include the entire unwanted email and explain that they are complaining about spam.
To report text messages, Schmidt said to report the spam to the messaging app being used. A copy of the message can also be forwarded to 7726 (SPAM), or report it to the Federal Trade Commission HERE.
For more information about how to protect yourself from scams, click HERE.
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