Phishing scams come on all kinds of flavours, but the main goal of any phishing scam is to steal important and sensitive information about a victim. Most phishing scams attempt to steal passwords to gain access to important portals like online banking and shopping sites. Phishing scammers create official looking e-mails from well-known financial institutions and large corporations and distribute these e-mails in bulk, just like any other spammer would do. These e-mails are carefully designed to create the impression that the e-mail actually originated from the company portrayed in the e-mail. The victim is often instructed to visit the website of the company to re-activate his/her suspended account, to update his/her personal details or to complete some kind of security update. Scammers come up with all kinds of lame excuses why you should visit the website, so these are only a handful of reasons that they normally use.
The link in the e-mail never points to the official website of the real company, but a fake version of the official website. This fake website, also called the phishing site, is often a carbon copy of the real site, but all the information entered on the fake website is stored on a server that belongs to the scammer (often a database residing on the same server as the phishing site). This is how they steal passwords from their victims, the victim enters his/her password on the fake website, the scammer stores the login details in a database and redirects the victim to the official website of the company (clever phishing scammers even log the victim onto the real website, so the victim doesn't even realise that his/her password was stolen). The phishing scammer will use the stolen login details to gain access to the account of the victim as soon as possible. Many financial organisation provide notifications to their customers via SMS (Instant Text Messages) to inform the customer of any activity on his/her online account, but some scammers have even found ways to evade this form of protection, so never rely on security systems alone, always prevent your personal and sensitive details from being stolen in the first place.
The main goal of other phishing scams is Identity Theft. Phishing scammers will try to get as much personal information as possible about their victim. The scammer will then attempt to conduct transactions using the victim's identity, in other words the scammer will get the benefit of the transaction and the victim will receive the bill or carry the consequences. Keep your personal information safe and don't divulge it to someone just because they sent you some official looking e-mail.
Below is a list of the most common phishing scams (with examples):
- Amazon Phishing Scams
- Banking Phishing Scams
- eBay Phishing Scams
- Home Loan Phishing Scams
- IRS Phishing Scams
- PayPal Phishing Scams