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What Are Phishing Scams?

September 15, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

The internet offers many money-making opportunities but if you violate any laws in the process, then you could find yourself charged with a serious crime here in Ohio. One of these offenses is a form of internet fraud known as phishing. To avoid any run-ins with the law, it is important to understand what exactly phishing is.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the basic definition of phishing is when a person or business tries to get people to provide personal data by behaving like a reputable business that a person might trust. For example, if you were to impersonate a bank, a popular website like PayPal or eBay, social media sites or a government agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service, to try to gain access to information, you would be conducting a phishing scam. Basically, you are trying to make the recipient think you are the legitimate company so that they take some type of action.

If you create a pop-up message or email that asks a person to provide their personal or financial information, and you use this data for your own reasons, such as to conduct identity theft, that would be considered phishing. This includes composing content in the messages that is aimed at getting the reader to engage with you. For example, you write that their account was overcharged or that they need to verify their account and then present a link they can click on to enter that information.

Another action that would be considered phishing is to motivate a person to respond by threatening to take corrective action, such as close an account or cancel an order, if they do not contact you. Informing them of a false unauthorized transaction to motivate them to provide you with sensitive information is also a form of phishing and can get you into trouble with the authorities. This information is intended to educate only and should not be considered legal advice.

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