Don't Get Phished Like Your Local Councilman

Many of us have received letters from strangers in foreign lands promising us enormous sums via wire transfer in exchange for social security numbers and bank account access codes. The sad truth is that no one is safe from email scams. The latest public victim was Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. Johnson, the 2nd District representative for Philadelphia, was phished via his city council email address.

The nefarious email, blasted en masse to recipients in his digital address book, stated that he’d been robbed at gunpoint during a last minute trip to Manila, Philippines. The email went on to explain that he would require immediate funds in order to pay his foreign hotel bill and to have his luggage returned from the hotel’s management.

Phishing – not to be confused with following the band — is a way for savvy online scammers to glean financial information under the guise of a legitimate financial organization. The term was coined in the 1990s during the onset of financial trafficking via Internet applications and websites.

The IRS issued a memorandum for the 2016 tax season warning filers to be aware of emails claiming to be from the IRS requesting personal information. Phishing scams use a myriad of methods to siphon sensitive information from unsuspecting victims. One popular method is the use of a similar web address coupled with an unofficial top level domain (TLD) suffix. For instance, an email from “hr@irs.gov” may come from “hr@irs.biz” instead.

Phishing is a silent attacker and one of the top avenues for identity theft. Due to the high level of digital sophistication that phishers use to elicit protected information, the elderly and computer illiterate are often the most at risk. A recent report by Information Management states that phishing attacks are among the greatest threats to the healthcare industry.  In 2015, two prominent healthcare providers were attached by these scams, putting millions of customers at risk for having their identities stolen. Health insurance plan provider Anthem sustained a breach that lead to the exposure of 78.8 million identities. Premera sustained the breach of 11 million identities.

To prevent instances of phishing and hacking, many websites utilize CAPTCHA technology for an additional layer of protection. CAPTCHA, which stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart,” prevents bots planted by hackers from gaining access to certain online systems.

Victims of data breaches are often left to contend with the bills racked up by identity thieves. This has caused innocent people, many of whom are elderly, to endure debt harassment from collectors regarding debts which they themselves did not incur. If you have been the victim of a phishing scam which has led to debt harassment and the loss of your good credit standing, contact our attorneys at Morgan & Morgan immediately for a free case evaluation. We’re available to litigate against bullish lenders on your behalf, allowing you to put your bills and livelihood back in order for good.

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