Phishing is the term for a scam where you are lured to a phony website and either induced into providing personal information to what you think is a legitimate company or even a government agency or persuaded to click on what appears to be a legitimate link only to learn that by clicking on the link, you unwittingly download keystroke logging malware that will steal all of the information from your computer, smartphone, tablet or other device. In either situation, the end result is the same. You end up a victim of identity theft. Recently a phony, but very good looking copy of a Netflix website was found on the Internet. The URL for the website did have the word “Netflix” in it, but it also had a number of apparently random characters also in the URL which to a careful viewer would have been a sufficient tip off that this is a scam. On the website was a message to call an 800 support telephone number. If you call the number, you are told that your Netflix account has been shut down because it had been illegally accessed by hackers. You are then told to enable the “support” team to have access to your computer or other device in in order to remotely download necessary security software to protect your account in the future. Instead of security software, what is installed remotely is a keystroke logging malware program that enables the scammers to steal all of the information from your device and use it to make you a victim of identity theft. In addition, the support team also asks for a photo of the customer’s identification and a credit card, which is readily able to be done using the victim’s computer or phone camera, which was actually able to be enabled through software already downloaded unwittingly by the customer. In closing, the phony support team tells the customer that the customer will be charged as much as $400 for the security update, however, in his or her case, they will offer a discounted rate.
This particular scam is no longer being done. The phony website has been taken down. However, it is a typical type of phishing scam that you must take great care to avoid. Identity thieves are quite adept at creating legitimate looking websites that appear to be those of legitimate companies or even governmental agencies. Whenever you go to a website for a company or agency with which you do business, make sure that you have the correct URL. Double check it. In this case, a savvy consumer would also know that Netflix does not supply security software. In any event, never provide personal information, click on links or download attachments unless you are absolutely sure that you are dealing with a legitimate company that has a real reason for your information. Although this particular scam is now down, you can expect the same pattern to repeat itself time and time again.