The Top 7 Phishing Scams and Attacks to Watch Out for in 2022

Phishing scams and attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated as time goes on. To stay ahead of the curve, you have to be aware of the most common scams and attacks that are likely to occur in 2022.

This blog post explores not just what does phishing mean but also the top 7 phishing scams that you need to watch out for and how you can avoid falling prey to them. Stay safe online!

What are phishing scams?

Before we explore the different phishing scams on the rise, let’s first define what these scams are. Phishing scams are fraudulent emails or websites that pose as a legitimate companies to steal your personal information. This information can include your login credentials, credit card numbers, Social Security number, etc.
Scammers use phishing attacks to acquire this sensitive information by tricking you into clicking on a malicious link or attachment. Once you click on the link or attachment, you will be redirected to a fake website that looks identical to the real thing.

The goal of these scams is to steal your information so that the attacker can gain access to your accounts, make unauthorized charges, or even commit identity theft. Now then, let’s take a look at the top phishing scams that you need to be on the lookout for:

1. Fake invoices or bills

One of the most common phishing scams is the fake invoice or bill scam. This scam usually targets businesses, as scammers will pose as suppliers and send over false invoices to be paid.
This type of phishing scam is especially effective because it can be hard for businesses to keep track of all their suppliers, and they will often just pay the invoice without checking if it’s legitimate.
To avoid falling for this scam, always verify the sender of the invoice and double-check that the amount is correct before making any payments. Businesses or individuals expecting certain payments should also set up two-factor authentication to verify the sender’s identity.

What to look for:
An email from an unknown sender
A sense of urgency (e.g., “you have 24 hours to pay this invoice”)
Incorrect or unusual payment amounts

How to avoid it:
Always verify the sender of the invoice
Double-check payment amounts before making any payments
Set up two-factor authentication for added security
Never give out personal or financial information over email or the phone
If you’re ever unsure about an invoice, reach out to the company or individual directly to confirm.

2. Malicious attachments or Email phishing

phishing scams

Another common phishing scam is the malicious attachment scam. This scam usually comes in an email from a trusted source, such as your bank or a company you work with.

This is no doubt one of the most ruthless scams out there, as it can be very difficult to tell if an email is legitimate or not. Scammers are getting better and better at making their emails look real, so it’s important to be extra vigilant.

What to look for:
An email from an unknown or suspicious sender
A sense of urgency (e.g., “you have 24 hours to open this attachment”)
Misspellings or poor grammar
The message is not addressed to you by name

How to avoid it:
Never open attachments from unknown or suspicious sources
Hover your cursor over links to check where they’re taking you before clicking
Never give out personal or financial information over email or the phone

Businesses dealing with several employees should think about investing in software like Phishing Tackle’s phishing training platform.
This software allows businesses to create and manage bespoke phishing simulations for their workforce and monitor employee progress and performance over time.

3. Password reset scams or account update scams

Have you ever received an email or text message from a company you work with asking you to reset your password or that your account has been locked? If so, beware as this could be a password reset scam.
This scam is becoming increasingly common (and effective), as people are more likely to hand over their personal information if they think their account has been compromised.

What to look for:
A shady-looking email or text message
The message is not addressed to you by name or is generic
The message asks you to click on a link or attachment

How to avoid password reset scams:
You can employ the same preventive measures mentioned previously
Never give out personal or financial information over email or the phone
When creating passwords, make sure they are long, unique, and contain a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.

4. The fake job offer or recruitment scam

The next phishing scam on our list is the fake job offer or recruitment scam. This scam usually targets people who are actively looking for a job, as scammers will pose as potential employers and send over a fake job offer.
Fake job scams can be difficult to spot, especially if you’re desperate for a job. These messages typically look legitimate, but there are a few red flags you can look out for.

What to look for:
The job offer is from an unknown or suspicious company
The job description is generic or too good to be true
You’re asked to provide personal or financial information upfront

How to avoid the fake job offer scam:
Do your research on the company before applying for any job.
Only ever communicate with potential employers through a professional email address.
If you’re ever unsure about a job offer, reach out to the company directly to confirm.

5. The fake charity scam

Beware your soft hearts, as scammers now target people’s generosity by setting up fake charities. Fake charity scams often ask for donations to support a cause, such as natural disaster relief efforts.
Scammers operating fake charities will usually set up a fake website or social media page that looks legitimate.
They may even use the branding of a real charity to make their scam look more convincing.

What to look for:
The charity is unknown or not registered
You’re asked to donate by wire transfer or gift card
The donation page is not secure (look for “HTTPS” in the URL)

How to avoid fake charity scams:
Do your research on the charity before donating. Look for reviews, registration, and tax-exempt status.
Never donate by wire transfer or gift card. Use a credit card instead so you can dispute the charges if necessary.
When in doubt, consult the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Information website for more tips on spotting and avoiding charity scams when in doubt.

6. Spear phishing

A type of phishing scam becoming more and more common is spear phishing. This scam targets a specific individual or organization by customizing the phishing message to seem like it’s coming from a trusted source.
Think of it as an evolved form of regular email phishing, as scammers now do their research to make their messages seem more personal to the one they’re targeting.
For example, a spear phishing email may address you by name or mention something specific about your company.

What to look for:
The message is addressed to you by name or mentions something specific about you/your company
The sender seems to be from a trusted source like your boss, coworker, or bank
The message contains a sense of urgency

How to avoid spear phishing scams:
Never open attachments or click on links from unknown or untrusted sources.
If you’re unsure about the sender, confirm their identity by reaching out to them through another channel. For example, if you receive an email from your boss, call them to confirm before opening any attachments.

7. Smishing

Smishing is a phishing scam that uses text messages instead of email to trick victims. These text messages usually claim to be from a trusted source, such as your bank, and like other phishing scams, they will contain a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly.
For example, you may receive a text message claiming there’s been suspicious activity on your bank account, and you need to click a link to confirm your identity. Once you click the link, you’ll be taken to a fake website that looks real and will ask you to input sensitive information.
Smishing differs from regular phishing in that the former uses text messages while the latter uses email. But they’re both types of social engineering attacks that use deception to get you to hand over sensitive information.

What to look for:
You receive a text message from an unknown number or a “ spoofed ” number that looks like it’s from a trusted source
The message claims there’s been suspicious activity on your account or you need to take action to avoid consequences

How to avoid smishing scams:
Never click on links or download attachments from unknown or untrusted sources. Smishing often uses a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly, so take a step back and think before you click.
If you’re not sure whether the text message is legitimate, reach out to the company through another channel (e.g., call customer service) to confirm.

8. Whaling

While it may sound like something out of a mob movie, whaling is a type of phishing scam that targets high-profile individuals within an organization, such as the CEO or CFO. The goal of these attacks is usually to gain access to sensitive information or company funds.
Scammers will do their research on their targets and craft a personalized message that seems to be coming from a trusted source or contact. Like with the other, whaling scams are imbued with a sense of urgency.
For example, the scammer may pose as the CEO’s assistant and send an email asking for wire transfer details so they can make an urgent payment to a supplier. The email looks legitimate, but the wire transfer details will go to the scammer instead of the supposed supplier.

What to look for:
You receive an email from a trusted source or contact asking for sensitive information or money
The email contains a sense of urgency.
The request is out of the ordinary and seemingly not related to the sender’s usual work.

How to avoid whaling scams:
Never respond to or click on links in emails
Never transfer money or sensitive information in response to an email request.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to your cyber security, you can never be too careful. These are only some of the most common phishing scams and attacks to watch out for, but new threats are always emerging. The best way to protect yourself and your organization are to be aware of the risks and take steps to prevent phishing attacks before they happen.

Al Gomez

SEO Consultant, Online Marketer & Blogger, Web Developer & DLINKERS Founder.

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