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Phishing: Recognizing a False Message?

by GEORGE MATHEWS
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The most common form of fraud is phishing, fraudsters fish for the bank details and personal bank codes of their victims. Their modus operandi: they send you an e-mail, SMS, WhatsApp, message via Facebook Messenger or other social media). That message contains a link to a – often almost perfectly – counterfeit website.

If you enter your personal bank codes on that fake website, you give the fraudsters free access to your bank account. Result: they take your money, and you are left behind looted.  So, watch out!

While fraudsters most often “phish” by texting, they may also call you over the phone. Below we list the most common forms of phishing for you.

Bank phishing

With bank phishing, fraudsters send false messages on behalf of your bank . The message in those messages can vary you have to renew your bank card, a security update has to be done, you have to (un)block your bank card, …

All these messages have one thing in common: the fraudsters ask for your personal bank codes via a false link. Usually these are the codes with which you bank online or mobile, such as the code that appears on your card reader when you want to make a payment.

Do you receive a message from ‘your bank’ containing a link to pass on your codes? Then a light should come on: that’s fake! Your bank never asks for your mobile or internet banking codes via a link. Not via email, not via SMS, Messenger, WhatsApp or any other channel.

Smishing

It has already been discussed here: phishing happens through various channels. We call the variant via SMS smishing.

If we stay in the banking world, then you have, for example, Card Stop fraud: Criminals send text messages asking you to urgently (un)block your bank card. Service sender? Supposedly Card Stop, but in reality, they are false messages coming from fraudsters.

A link in the SMS leads to a fake website where you have to provide your banking details. Don’t, because the result is often a ransacked account.

Phishing on behalf of other organizations

Fraudsters don’t just misuse the name of banks to send phishing messages. Other companies that you easily trust is also targeted . The principle remains the same: you will receive a message containing a link that takes you to a fake website.

The fraudsters try to lure you into a trap with all kinds of excuses: you receive a voucher, you have a chance to win an unprecedented discount, you can participate in a competition with a great prize, you win a gift voucher, … All you have to do is , is to leave your payment details.

A snag: the message always contains a link that takes you to a fake website. After some competition questions you also must fill in your personal bank details. The consequence? No nice price or tickets, but an empty bank account.

Phishing via second-hand websites

Second-hand websites are also plagued by phishing . If you put an ad online, you can bump into a phishing criminal. He pretends to be an interested buyer. He wants to transfer you the agreed amount, but first asks you to transfer 1 euro cent to him, so that he is sure that he is transferring to the right person and the correct account number.

To make it easy for you, he sends you a message with a payment link. That link will take you to a fake website where you will be asked to enter your bank details. Again, the same: filling in your personal details means a looted bank account.

Protect yourself from phishing

You now know what forms phishing can take, but how can you protect yourself against it? Always keep these 4 rules of thumb in mind.

Never give out your codes for internet banking via email, social media, text message or telephone. Your internet banking codes are just as secret as the pin code of your bank card!

Never link to your bank’s payment site or mobile app. Your bank never asks you for your codes via a link.

Always type the address of your bank website yourself in your browser. You can also save the address in your browser’s favorites list. Or open your bank’s mobile app yourself.

When in doubt, you better stop. So if you received a somewhat strange message and you don’t know what to do, err on the side of caution and stop everything.

If you have accidentally fall into the trap, these are the steps you should do as soon as possible. Firstly, contact your bank and Notify Card Stop if you have also provided card details. After that, you should change your codes as well. Lastly, you should file a complaint with the police.

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