Phishing isn’t a spring pastime for me

For the record, I didn’t fall off of any turnip truck.

I don’t know why I’ve been targeted — maybe I entered my cell phone number onto some kind of form I shouldn’t have — but in recent weeks I’ve received multiple text messages asking me to click on a link because the package I had ordered was ready for delivery by the U.S. Postal Service or Amazon.

The last came at 3:31 p.m. Tuesday afternoon from “UPS” saying “Our driver failed to deliver the parcel today” followed by a link to click on.

Another came earlier, at 7:54 a.m. Tuesday from “Amazon,” saying “Thank you for your purchase. We will notify you when its (grammar note — should have been “it’s”) shipped. View your order and special rewards on (link to be clicked on).

Still another said “Your Netflix account will be locked because your payment was declined” followed by a link to click on.

The thing is, I didn’t make either of those orders. I don’t even have a Netflix account. And in fact, I make few of such online orders, simply because I don’t particularly like any of “my information” floating around out there on the World Wide Web.

According to the security firm Proofpoint, mobile phishing attempts increased by more than 300 percent in the third quarter of 2020, compared to the second. Apparently it’s still going strong as we enter the second quarter of 2021.

And the scammers are even trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services warned the public in late December of potential fraud schemes related to COVID-19 tests, contact tracing, vaccine eligibility, and Medicare prescription cards.

According to a 2019 report by the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, older adults are more vulnerable to financial cybercrimes than other age groups and are more frequently targeted.

So just exactly what are the scammers trying to imply about me?

Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Matt Henderson said Wednesday that he had not heard of any increase in such phishing scams going on in Lincoln Parish. But he added that they do happen, and the best way to handle them is to simply not click on the link and instead, if you have made a recent online order, go to the company’s official website to check on the status of your expected package or payment.

The Better Business Bureau says that such messages “either contain a ‘tracking link’ or a message that the shipper is having difficulty delivering a package to you, or most recently, a link to update delivery preferences. Clicking the link either takes you to a form that asks for personally identifying information, or to a site that downloads malware onto your computer.”

So if you do get one of these texts, don’t click the link.

“If you get an unexpected text message, don’t click on any links,” the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says. “If you think it could be legit, contact the company using a website or phone number you know is real. Don’t use the information in the text.”

You can also report spam text messages to the FTC by:
• Reporting it on the messaging app you use and looking for the option to report junk or spam
• Copying the message and forwarding it to 7726 (SPAM).
• Reporting it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

I like fishing as much as anyone else here in the red dirt, piney hills of Lincoln Parish. I simply prefer catfish, crappie or brim over scammers. Eating catfish is a good thing. Being catfished isn’t.


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