Phishing scam red flags to look for

Phishing Scams
Posted at 3:06 AM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 11:52:38-05

BOISE, Idaho — Now more than ever, experts say cybersecurity is something everyone needs to keep in mind when using personal devices, like smartphones and computers.

Hackers and nations like Russia that pose a cybersecurity threat to the US don't just target large companies and the government. They target everyday people too.

"I got this email and it was from the geek squad, it said it was from the geek squad and it looked really legit," Coeur d'Alene resident Lisa Carey said. "And I had just recently bought an electronic device so it kind of caught my eye."

The email wasn't actually from Best Buy's Geek Squad — it was a scam.

These types of phishing scams can also come as a text, asking you to click on a link.

"It's just a link to either download like malware onto your computer or your device or they're trying to get your login information for some of these bigger accounts so they can log in as you, change your information and then start using your payment," said Rebecca Barr with the Better Business Bureau.

Lisa Carey was able to catch the scam before it came to this.

"It had the logo at the top, but then as I was looking on it, the from was a Gmail account," she said.

Carey said other red flags she caught included spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.

The Better Business Bureau said if you receive a text or email like this, to stop and think, does it make sense and apply to you?

In Carey's example, you shouldn't click on any links and instead, go to the source, like Best Buy's website or the store itself.

Barr said other things to think about include, "Is it out of the blue? Is it from an unknown number? Does something seem a little bit off?"

These scams can also be a phone call.

The Chief Information Officer for the State of Idaho Keith Tresh gives this advice: "Hang up and then call the service that you know."

The BBB said another common phishing scam they're seeing is with QR codes.

"They will put QR codes in different marketing messaging and it actually leads to an illegitimate website," Barr said.

The websites tend to look real, which is where taking a step back and going directly to the source instead is important. This scam is showing up in emails, on social media and even on posters in communities.

"If you do scan a QR code and it doesn't seem right, the link's taking you to somewhere you don't want to be, absolutely click out of it and shut that browser down," Barr said.

This is where it's also important to make sure your operating system and software, including antivirus software, are up to date. Also, keep in mind what information you might have accidentally given a hacker access to.

"Clearing your browser history, clearing your cookies, making sure you're looking at the device security settings are all going to be key in those situations," Barr said.

The BBB has a scam tracker on its website where you can report any scams you come across.