About Phishing

Phishing basics

Phishing is when someone contacts you and tries to trick you into revealing personal information or credentials. Most often, the phisher will try to impersonate a trustworthy person or organization like a friend, coworker, bank, or retailer.

Phishing happens via a variety of communication methods. You could be contacted via email, phone, physical mail, or in person. You might be asked to click a link that leads to a spoofed version of a webpage that you trust, or you might be asked to respond with personal information like your address and social security number.

Who gets phished

Phishing is the most common cybercrime and is rapidly growing. Carrying out a phishing attack requires few resources and no special skills, so lots of opportunistic criminals are trying.

Phishing is usually attempted via email. Almost everyone receives multiple phishing emails per year, since spam and security filters aren't perfect. Higher-profile targets with lots of money or valuable information receive more sophisticated contact over the phone or in person.

Most data breaches occur because someone was phished, giving attackers access to corporate networks and data.

How to protect yourself

Examples of phishing

Here are some examples of phishing. Click each heading below to learn more.

Bank withdrawal

You receive an email that appears to be from your bank explaining that a large withdrawal has been made. It instructs you to click the provided link if you didn't authorize it. When you click the link it takes you to a fraudulent page that looks just like the home page of your bank, so you think you're on your bank's website. When you sign in, your username and password are sent to the criminals without your knowledge.

Big sale

You receive an email advertisement that looks like it's from your favorite online retailer with a great deal on a product you are interested in. The email is actually from a fraudster. When you click on the link to the product, instead of directing you to the retailer, malware is installed on your computer, which gives the bad actor unrestricted access to your device without your knowledge.

Signing a petition

Someone knocks on your door and asks you to sign their petition. You like their cause, so you agree to give them your name and signature. They now have your name, address, and signature, which they can use (along with other information found online) to impersonate you.

Declined credit card

You get a call from a toll-free number. They tell you they're calling from Visa, and that your most recent credit card charge was declined. They want to help you fix the problem to make sure your payment goes through. But first, for security, they need to know your credit card number, the last four digits of your social security number, and your date of birth. You don't want to deal with a failed payment, so you give them what they need to know without ever realizing they were impersonating your credit card company.

How EasyOptOuts can help

Phishing often relies on criminals impersonating a person or organization you trust. The more information they have about you, the easier it is. People-search sites make it easy for criminals to find out a lot about potential victims.

We opt you out of the most prominent people-search sites sharing and selling your information without your consent, to make it more difficult for criminals to learn about you and pretend to know you. Signing up takes just a few minutes. We handle the rest!