Avoid the “Web Hosting” Phishing Scam
Whether it’s surfing the web or simply checking your email, you need to be very cautious of online scams. One of the latest threats circulating is a fraudulent “Web Hosting” email claiming that the recipient will be billed $4.99 per month for a hosting package and $14.95 per year for a domain name registration. The purpose of this scam is to rattle the recipient and persuade them to click a link provided in the body of the message. However, clicking this link is the last thing you want to do. Why? Well, if you do, you will end up with a malicious spyware program on your computer or worse.
Aside from spying and collecting information on your browsing patterns, this type of nuisance has other tendencies that pose a direct threat to your personal information. Spyware can redirect your browser requests, change your system settings, consume vital resources, impact performance, log your keystrokes and install other malicious software. These unfortunate scenarios and others can all result when falling for a popular scam known as phishing.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a technique that relies on social engineering to trap its victims. The primary intent of this scam is to commit fraud and ultimately, identity theft. Using the email system as its medium, phishing is so damaging for the simple fact that it is so difficult to detect.
Phishers tangle innocent organizations into their plot, sending unsuspecting users emails that look as if they come from PayPal, Wells Fargo or a legitimate web hosting provider. Almost always, these messages create a sense of emergency that causes the recipient to panic and fall right into a deadly trap. Similar to the scheme above, they generally state the something wrong is with your account and if you don’t act immediately, the account will be cancelled or you will be charged a certain amount for a given product or service. Of course they are willing to help resolve the matter. Simply click the provided link and you are redirected to rogue site where you are prompted to enter your account details. Instead, you are essentially handing the keys to your assets right over to the criminal. As with the web hosting scam, you are redirected to a site that secretly installs spyware on your computer. Phishing has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars and without taking it serious, you could be the next victim.
Don’t Take the Bait
The best defense against phishing is awareness. You need to accept the fact that this scam is out there and do what it takes to prevent it. The rules are all quite simple: never respond to an unsolicited email requesting sensitive information and never click on any link the message contains. This is true even if it appears to have come from a company you do business with. These scams are very sophisticated and often purport legitimate companies to the tee. If you are truly concerned about your account, call the company directly. This will ultimately determine if there is really a problem or if you were being lured into a phishing trap.
You can learn more about phishing and how to recognize this scam by visiting the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) website.
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