Phishing involves cyber-criminals attempting to steal personal information such as online passwords, bank details or money from an unsuspecting victim.
Very often, the criminal will use an email, phone call or even a fake website pretending to be from a reputable company.
The criminals can use personal details to complete profiles on a victim which can be sold on the dark web.
Cyber criminals will use emails in an effort to elicit personal information from victims in order to commit fraud or infect the user’s computer for nefarious purposes
Some phishing attempts involve criminals sending out infected files in emails in order to take control of a victim’s computer.
Any from of social media or electronic communication can form part of a phishing attempt.
Action Fraud warn that you should never assume an incoming message is from a genuine company – especially if it asks for a payment or wants you to log on to an online account.
Banks and other financial institutions will never email looking for passwords or other sensitive information.
An effected spam filter should protect from most of the malicious messages, although the user should never call the number at the bottom of a suspicious email or follow their link.
Experts advise that customers should call the organisation directly to see if the attempted communication was genuine.
According to Action Fraud: ‘Phishing emails encourage you to visit the bogus websites.
‘They usually come with an important-sounding excuse for you to act on the email, such as telling you your bank details have been compromised, or claim they’re from a business or agency and you’re entitled to a refund, rebate, reward or discount.
‘The email tells you to follow a link to enter crucial information such as login details, personal information, bank account details or anything else that can be used to defraud you.
‘Alternatively, the phishing email may try to encourage you to download an attachment. The email claims it’s something useful, such as a coupon to be used for a discount, a form to fill in to claim a tax rebate, or a piece of software to add security to your phone or computer.
‘In reality, it’s a virus that infects your phone or computer with malware, which is designed to steal any personal or banking details you’ve saved or hold your device to ransom to get you to pay a fee.’