Usually, the holidays are a time for cheer, joy, and other happiness-related words. But as computer security experts already know, the holidays are also a time for criminals to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.
Phishing scams are particularly common around the holiday season, and PayPal is one of the biggest targets for these criminals. PayPal phishing scams involve:
-Sending users an email that claims to be from PayPal
-Leading users to click on bogus links to falsified websites that look like legitimate ones (like PayPal.com)
-Forcing users to enter their username, email address, or password into that site in order to ‘confirm’ their account or to ‘upgrade their security’ or perform some other suspicious task.
Once users have visited the fake website and entered personal information, the criminal can tie that information back to their account. In most cases, phishing victims are inexperienced internet users, including old people or young people or anybody who’s technologically unproven.
Why the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year for phishing scams
The holidays are a particularly popular time for hackers to find victims because people are generally purchasing goods online. If you just paid for orders for multiple websites through PayPal, then you may be used to seeing a flurry of PayPal emails arrive in your inbox. Instead of giving each email a thorough read, your brain might go on autopilot and simply read through the email, follow the instructions, and forget about it.
That’s what phishers are preying on. Never assume that the email in your account is ‘just another PayPal email’ and always read an email thoroughly before following through with its instructions. And most importantly, after clicking on any email link, take a look at your URL bar to ensure that you’re on https://www.paypal.com and not some other closely-named website. If your address bar doesn’t start with https://www.paypal.com, you’re not on an official PayPal website and you should exit that site immediately.
What happens if I fall for a PayPal phishing scheme?
As you can imagine, the consequences of falling for a PayPal phishing scheme can be devastating. They include:
-Instant loss of all funds in your account with little to no hope of getting that money back
-Loss of money or loss of access to your offline bank account, particularly if it’s tied to your PayPal account
-Other identity-theft related problems
Apparently, most of these PayPal attacks are targeting Australian and Canadian users, although phishing is certainly a global phenomenon that can affect people all over the world. Since PayPal is used by people in just about every country, phishers have a large network of people that they can attack.
As stupid as phishing attacks may seem, they’re not designed to target every single internet user. Instead, phishers send out millions of emails in a single burst and may only receive a handful of successful ‘catches’. But that’s all they need in order for the campaign to be profitable.
Are you prepared? Take the test
PayPal is well aware of its phishing problems and popularity as a target for hackers. As such, the company has created a ‘test’ that users can take to challenge themselves on how much they know about avoiding phishing attacks. This test involves identifying real PayPal emails versus fake ones, as well as learning how to tell if a website is suspicious.
This information can save your life – or at least all the money in your PayPal account. To learn how to avoid phishing schemes this holiday season, take the PayPal anti-phishing challenge today by clicking here.