Phishing: What to look out for and how to avoid getting scammed

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You might not have heard the word ‘phishing’ before, but you have probably experienced it.  

‘Phishing’ is used to describe fraudulent attempts to gain access to your personal information, such as credit card information, bank details or passwords.  

The most common forms of phishing include emails asking you to reset your password, sign into your account or telling you that you have won a prize.  

Phishing emails or messages often seem urgent, and may falsely tell you that one of your accounts has been hacked. They may also impersonate government agencies and law enforcement to scare you into handing over confidential information.  

 

Is phishing easy to spot? 

In the past, most phishing emails were badly written or contained information that wasn’t relevant to you (e.g. a message about inheriting money from a supposed relative who doesn’t exist, etc.) 

However, phishing is now far more sophisticated. Many scams are designed to appear as if they come from an organisation, such as an email service, social media platform or your bank.  

Worryingly, some scammers use personal information about you online, such as your interests or events you have attended, to make phishing attempts more realistic. Keep this in mind when sharing information on social media.  

Phishing isn’t limited to emails either. Fraudsters target victims via phone calls, texts or links sent via messaging apps.  

When talking to your child about online scams, keep communication open and clear. Encourage them to come to you if they receive suspicious messages, and regularly discuss what they can do to report them.  

 

How you and your child can spot phishing 

  • Look out for spelling or grammatical errors.  

  • Check the sender’s email address. Are they using the address they normally contact you from? 
  • Ask yourself if you are expecting this message. Did you actually order that parcel? Do you have an account with the bank mentioned in the email?

  • Does the greeting contain your name or is it generic? If it’s the latter, it’s likely spam that’s been sent to a lot of people.

  • Be cautious if an email or message is urging you to take immediate action, or if it seems too good to be true. 

 

Do’s and don’ts of dealing with phishing 

  • DON’T open any links or attachments from senders you don’t know. 

  • DON’T share any personal or financial information. Remember that any reputable organisation or service would NEVER ask you to submit your personal or financial details using a link.
     
  • DON’T be fooled by appearances. Many phishing emails are designed to look legitimate, and include logos and other branding associated with an official service or organisation

  • DO report the email using the tools provided by your email service. 

  • DO block the sender.
     
  • DO use a filter to stop phishing from getting through. 

Want to put your detective skills to the test? Try this phishing quiz 

I’ve been scammed! What do I do? 

If you or your child have given your information to a fraudster, it’s important to act quickly.

Report the fraud to your local Garda Station, and keep copies of all emails, account details and any other information related to the crime.  

If you provided financial information to scammers, reach out to your bank as soon as possible.  

You should also report the phishing message to your email service, or the website or platform where you saw the message. 

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