Phishing and the Mobiel Notary

Phishing – Securing Your Business – Part 1

Phishing has been in the news again lately and phishing is bad for business.

But, what is phishing and how does it affect the mobile notary, their business, their business partners, even their personal lives, families and friends?  This is so very important because it can affect those who do business with you, and can lead to a messy situation.

Phishing is when a scammer uses fraudulent emails or texts, or copycat websites to get you to share valuable personal information – such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords. Scammers use your information to steal your money or your identity or both.

– – Federal Trade Commission

So What Does Phishing Look Like?

When done well, phishing looks just like any other email or text.  That is where they get you.

But, reputable institutions will never contact you and ask for personal information.  Let’s say that again. Reputable institutions will never contact you and ask for personal information.

The thing is, the email may appear to come from your bank, someone else you do business with, a friend or even a family member.  This is called “spoofing” and we’ll try to look more at that a bit later.  If you are a big time techie, you can spot these from a mile away, but the plain fact is most people cannot.

Don’t even be surprised if the email contains the company logo or even uses the exact same email template.  The phishers have gotten very good at this over the years.

One of the earliest rules of the internet is to not click on links you know nothing about.  When you run a business, that is very difficult, but it is something you need to keep in mind when you look at every email.

Onto the Fake Website

I’m going to use example.com, as an example.  Let’s make it simple and just say they are a bank.

One of the most popular ways phishers are successful is by sending you an email telling you that you need to reset your password.  You then click on a link, but that link does not bring you to example.com.  So when you reset the password, you are actually giving the phisher your password to example.com.  Then they transfer all the money overseas and you know how the rest goes.

So, how do they do it?

Look at the url of the page you are on.  Are you on example.com or exxample.com?  Maybe there is a foreign character in there that should not be?

Well, the good part is you should not have to worry about that.  If you get an email from example.com, don’t click the link.  Just use your browser and go to example.com.  Then you know you are in the right spot.  And if they don’t ask you to update your password, then you know that someone just tried to phish you.

Phishing By Phone?

I would go a step further than our definition above says and say that phishing can be done by phone as well.

The process is the same.  They call you, pretend to be someone they are not, and ask for your user credentials or other Non Public Information.  They might even send you to a fake website to verify they are who they say they are (they aren’t).

Again, reputable institutions are not going to call you and ask for personal information.  You call them, never the other way around.

Should I Report Phishing?

I’ll admit, there is a lot of it, and it is hard to keep track of.  But, if the attempt came from my bank or another business partner, I would report it immediately.

Banks have had to beef up their anti-fraud departments.  And they take their job seriously.  So give them a call.  They may already know about it, or it is possible they could ask you to send them some technical information from the email.  If they do that, they will give you proper instructions.

If the email came from a business partner, let them know.  Most likely, their email contact list was hacked or stolen.  And that is why you got the email that appears to be from them.

But, the thing is, if you got it, so did everyone else on their contact list.  So do them a solid and let them know, so they can let others know that might not be as savvy as you.

You Said Something About My Family and Friends

Phishing is not just a business thing. If affects people and their personal lives as well.

Phishers don’t care if you are a person or a business.  They just want Non Public Information from you so they can steal your identity, steal your contact lists, steal your money, and just about anything they can do to drain your resources and get access to people around you.

And just who is in your personal contacts list?  Maybe your mom, brothers and sisters, cousins, friends, acquaintances and more.

You want to protect yourself personally the same way you protect your business.

Common Sense Measures to Take

The fact is, no system is perfect.  But there are some common sense rules you can make to drastically reduce the chances of you falling prey to a phisher.

  1. Don’t click on links you do not expect or know.  If you are in question, look to number 2.
  2. Take initiative.  Contact your partners directly.  Go directly to their website, instead of using the link.  Call them if needed.
  3. Never give anyone Non Public Information unless you are 100% sure you are giving the correct person that information.

I hope this helped clear up what phishing is and some common sense things you can do to prevent it.  The easiest way is to bypass the links, or the phone call, and initiate contact directly.

That way you know who you are dealing with.

Continued Reading:

Part 2: What you click is not what you see.

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