Jeremy Johnson

Jeremy Johnson

Well you may have missed Free Fishing Day but there is plenty of time to spend on the river bank. June is recognized as “National Great Outdoors Month.” That’s right, 30 days dedicated to getting off the couch, out of the house, and into Mother Nature.

But before you dig out the fishing poles and head to the nearest body of water, take the time to learn about a different kind of phishing in East Idaho and elsewhere that isn’t so fun.

Phishing is the fraudulent act of imitating legitimate organizations via email, text messaging or phone calls. The goal is to get personal information, passwords and credit card numbers. And it happens all the time. BBB’s Scam Tracker has 141 reports of phishing scams in Idaho since June of last year, with the most significant incident resulting in an East Idaho woman losing $500.

It started with an email, seemingly from PayPal, warning that her account was hacked. The email instructed her to purchase five $100 Google Play gift cards in order to resolve the issue. Then they asked for more money, “to get the rest of the hackers out” and also stated they would notify the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau about the incident. But of course none of that was true and she never recouped her money.

Phishing is a larger issue than just a type of scam; it’s a tactic that con artists use in many other types of scams. They cast a wide net with these emails hoping to catch you off guard and snare you into one of their cons.

Here’s what to look for:

• Phishing messages typically either offer a reward (a gift card or free item), threaten a punishment (deactivate account or reports to authorities), or appear completely mundane (a file from an office scanner).

• In the communication, the scammer urges the target to download malware, click a link, or share information. In the case of an email or text, the link frequently leads to a form, which prompts the target to enter personal information.

• Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Always be wary of messages that don’t contain your name or other personalizing information. Keep in mind that it’s not difficult for scammers to copy and paste logos to make emails look legitimate.

• Be careful before you click. Hover over a link to see where it leads. Before entering personal information or passwords on any website, double-check that you have the correct URL and watch for minor misspellings.

Don’t take the bait! If you think you have received a phishing email the best thing to do is delete it. If you are questioning the legitimacy of the email, contact the company directly. Do not use the contact information contained in the suspicious email.

Protect your personal information, so the only phishing stories you’ll have to tell this summer are about that trout you swear was at least as long as your arm.

Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho Marketplace Manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. Contact the BBB at 208-342-4649 or email to info@thebbb.org.