What Is Phishing? Be Aware, Be Alert, Stay Safe!

Perhaps those behind all these scams are working double time for their 13th month bonus, or maybe for gifts and parties this season.

Be that as it may, taking care – being aware, being alert and staying safe, is upon all of us.

What is Phishing?

“Phishing is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication channels. The attacker uses phishing emails to distribute malicious links or attachments that can perform a variety of functions, including the extraction of login credentials or account information from victims.” – Margaret Rouse, SearchSecurity

Here are my recently received phishing email messages, a friend’s phishing phone call and my thisclose, I-almost-witnessed, it-all-happened-so-fast pickpocketing kind of happenstance. All in the light of spreading greater awareness on how these unfold.

Phishing Email

A suspicious email from callcenter@bdo.comA suspicious email from callcenter@bdo.com

They’re pretending to be email messages from my bank. However below are tell-tale signs these are fraudulent email messages:

  • First and foremost, always remember that no bank will ever ask for your information or signature online. Signatures are always collected live, in-person.
  • Sentences are run-on. You would catch your breath if you read it aloud. Go ahead, try.
  • Sentence construction is poor, often with grammatical errors and/or missing punctuation marks.
  • Overall, the message don’t make sense.
  • Before responding to anything suspicious, call the bank first via their published contact numbers or visit their site for updates and reminders.

Phishing Call

See what my friend, Beth, encountered very recently, over a phone call.

Beth’s message to remind everyone to be extra vigilant. A phishing scam via call.Beth’s message to remind everyone to be extra vigilant. A phishing scam via call.
  • Do not give personal identifiable information to anyone via call. This includes your email address, birthday, mother’s maiden name, card numbers (any card) especially if in combination.
  • At the onset on phone call, if you are not comfortable with it, always best to politely cut the conversation. Afterall, you are busy and truly have (more important) things to do, right?

Pickpocket

Or perhaps for alignment, we can say, fishing (for) phone!

Anyway. Not phishing, but it is also a scam and this is something I recently almost witnessed.

“It is a practiced profession, and like any sleight-of-hand demonstration, employs distraction, misdirection and even compassion to enable success,” Coursen says.

Coursen adds that “a skilled practitioner will use their environment to their advantage. Subway cars, busy crosswalks and crowded elevators are all normal ‘bump’ environments where we willingly participate with an expectation of normal crowd dynamics. In this environment, it’s very unlikely you would think twice about someone pressing up against your purse or pocket.” – USAToday.com

I was on the metro rail Monday night when I noticed the girl beside me so anxious and seems about to turn her bag upside down, “Hala! Nadukutan ako???”

Everyone looked her way, concerned. “What happened?” And even those who did not ask, had question marks hanging over them.

The girl had both her hands occupied with paper bag full of school supplies, her bag, she said, had been left open until when she realized her phone wasn’t there anymore.

She added that as she thought of zipping her bag, two ladies pressed on her back. She said they were so heavy she couldn’t do anything else but to try to keep her balance.

Luckily, they weren’t successful in getting her wallet, too. At least she had fare money. Someone also helped her try to ring her phone, call her mom and lent her a phone so she can change passwords.

  • Look around when in a crowded place. People would normally just mind their own business or just scan similar to what you would do. If you see someone looking down at the level of bags and pockets, a searching eye looking for her next victim, stay away or if you can’t, guard everything you have.
  • Always keep an eye on your belongings. Secure them with your hands, too.
  • Make noise whenever you feel anything weird or unusual happening. This will draw attention to you AND to them.
  • Stay alert. Pay attention.

This is not exhaustive but quite captures the most common scams this season.

Amidst all these, let us still continue to be positive and have faith in our fellow human being. Many people are still worth the trust and many people are willing to help.

Just a simple reminder for everyone and please share with your friends. Everyone needs to be reminded from time to time. 🙂

Be aware, be alert and stay safe!

It’s still a merry season.


Thank you so much for visiting. I appreciate you and your presence here.

Please write to me at emiletherese@yahoo.com for your questions and topic or feature suggestions.

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About Emile Therese

Emile Therese is a graduate of the University of Philippines in Diliman with a degree in Psychology. She is happily married. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with one amazing daughter (and hopefully at least one more child). She believes that values and character ought to be taught as early as possible and that these are key to community and nation building. This was also how she and her siblings were brought up by their two awesome parents! She is a Certified HR Professional who advocates employee engagement in its entirety. Emile believes that true employee engagement rests on the pillars of basic human needs and in ensuring that process and leadership basics are in place - the employee engagement imperatives. She hopes to contribute to making this world a better place for all of us now and the next generation. She loves sipping tea, conversations, reading and writing. The latter gave birth to two blogs - Purposeful Parenting Journey (purposefulparentingjourney.com) and Engagement Imperative (engagementimperative.com).

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