Reports of phony emails, text messages continue to rise

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QUINCY — Phishing is one of the oldest and most common tactics scammers use to steal money and personal information from people. A new Better Business Bureau (BBB) study shows that phishing scam reports to BBB Scam Tracker nearly doubled last year, reaching a record high of more than 9,000.

Phishing has been around for a long time, but scammers change their methods to reel in new targets. BBB’s study shows that phishing text messages are becoming more common.

There is usually a link in the text message that scammers want you to click on and enter personal information or download malicious software. The scammers might be posing as tech support, a government official or someone from your bank.

Since 2021, reports to BBB have shown that scammers use phishing tactics in nearly every type of scam, including government impersonation, tech support and cryptocurrency fraud. They are also starting to use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to generate phishing messages that seem more realistic and believable.

Remember that phishing scams can start with an email, text message or even a phone call. Though phishing comes in many different forms, there are some common signs you can keep an eye out for. If you notice one or more of these signs, take a step back and investigate further before you make any payments or click on any links.

Watch out for emails, text messages or phone calls that:

  • Make claims about suspicious activity or fraudulent logins
  • Say there are unexpected problems with your account
  • Ask you to confirm your financial information
  • Tell you to click a link to make a payment
  • Offer you government refunds
  • Send coupons you didn’t ask for
  • Use generic messages paired with the logo of a well-known company
  • Speak in typo-filled and urgent language

Report scams:

If you think you might have run into a phishing scam, report it to:

  • BBB ScamTracker
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at dobrien@quincybbb.org or 217-209-3972.

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