What is Phishing? Sample phishing emails and scam attempts.

Community Help: Examples of Phishing Scams - What is phishing?

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Phishing is simply when millions of emails are sent out by a scammer, and these emails are simply an attempt to fake as if they are a business, bank, brokerage firm, or even investors, as they look legimate and try to get you to click the links in the emails, to either respond to them or enter your bank or brokerage passwords. Sometimes they even ask for more information like social security numbers or addresses, basically an attempt to copy your identity by getting your personal information. Some even fake as if they are in dire need to get you to cash a check or money order for them, or participate in a bank transaction. It sounds harmless enough, but would you be smart enough to catch it if you have a bank account at Wachovia Bank for example, and you get an email from Wachovia (which looks exactly like a real Wachovia address) telling you your account is being shut down and you must sign on to confirm? These scams work because people think "I am a Wachovia customer so how would they know?". The answer is they don't, they just send out millions of emails with software, and the odds are some people that get these fake phishing emails will actually be Wachovia customers and they will fall for it, signing on and entering their bank routing number or bank passwords. In reality you aren't signing on to the bank at all, as the link the email was fake and routed you to a fake bank site which looked real, and your information you entered was simply logged or emailed to the scammers. There is also many phishing attempts acting like its your Ebay account or Paypal account, as many people have these types of accounts so the odds are good they can find people to fall for it! Here is some sample phishing email scam subject lines, note that the subject line attempts to make you panic so you sign on without thinking. What would you do if you had an account with these businesses, and you received a subject line showing:

Thank you for your Paypal purchase of $748.95!
(This is a common subject line, anything similiar to Paypal with any amount showing. Inside the email it says to click the link to dispute the transaction if its not yours. Obviously Paypal doesn't send out dispute links or emails like this, you should always sign on to Paypal using your browser bookmark and not the links in email if you don't realize its a phishing attempt).

Your Ebay account is being shutdown for fraud!
(Ebay is a common subject line, anything similiar to fraud or shutdown to make you panic. Inside the email it wants your to click the link in the email and confirm. Obviously Ebay doesn't send out emails like this, sign on to Ebay using your browser bookmark and not the links in email if you don't realize its a phishing attempt).

Your Suntrust bank account is overdrawn!
(This or any bank name is a common subject line, it could be Wachovia, Suntrust, Bank of America, or any bank name, with any type of scare tactic like withdrawn, shutdown, fraud, etc. Inside the email it will of course want you to sign on, but the link will be fake. Banks don't notify you like this, you should always sign on to your bank using your browser bookmark and not the links in email if you don't realize its a phishing attempt. You can always call your bank to if you are concerned, and many phishing attempts or identify theft would have been avoided by people doing this).

Your Mastercard account is shutdown due to fraud!
(This is similiar to the other subject lines, anything credit card related to attempt to get you to sign on to your account by clicking the email links within. Credit card companines don't send emails like this, call or sign on outside of your email if you are concerned whether its fraud or not).

Need your help! In God we trust!
(Often they use God in the subject line to try and get people's attention. These emails usually refer to someone having a large amount of money and for whatever lame reason they come up with, they need you to help wire transfer the money. Your reward will be part of the profits, sometimes millions of dollars. Avoid this email all together, these are obviously fake and you will end up paying a small fee up front, maybe $100 or maybe $40,000... whatever they can get from you, but you will see no money in return.).

Your Bank of America online account is being closed!
NO banks make radical changes to your account and notify you by email that you need to sign on. It doesn't matter if its account shutdown, account overdrawn, accout has fraud, etc. Remember banks are well aware of phishing and scams, and they would never send you emails this way as they know thats exactly how the scammers do it.

IRS refund of $202.42 is in your name!
IRS refunds or amounts owed, or anything related to taxes where they email you and tell you to enter your credit card number or social security number, or even your bank account number is obviously fraud. Ignore these emails. They may say anything, for example they could say the refund will be added to your credit card or wired to your bank. These are obviously attempts to steal your information when you enter it on the website. Follow the simple rule of "never click a link in a spam email to visit a site and enter informatino they say is required".... and this will apply to almost every situation where someone is attempting to "phish" or "scam" personal information from you.


These are samples that I have seen over the past several years, but keep in mind there are MANY variations. Avoiding falling prey to these phising emails is very simple, and you can see one clear solution to each example above. Do NOT click the links in the emails and do NOT panic because you got an email. If you have any doubts, open your browser and sign on SEPARATELY without clicking any email link and WITHOUT following any instructions in the email. If you are concerned, you can always pick up the phone and call, and I'm not talking about a phone number in the email. IGNORE the email all together and call the customer support separately, or sign on separately. This sounds so easy yet people continue to fall for these stupid phishing attempts. If you want, I will even review the website for you, post the website link and explanation you received with it at this site: Get Computer Help. I review it regularly and will check out your link and post a response. Note the other common theme, phishing scams are always related to credit cards, banks, brokerage accounts, bank transfers, ebay, paypal or any other financial related scam. People panic when its related to purchasing, fraud, or money, and they take advantage of your panic. Hopefully this helps explain the situation to you, and hopefully it helps prevent identify theft or phishing scam attempts on you. Be carefull out there!