The FBI Phoenix Field Office is warning the public of phishing and spoofing scams by criminal actors, and actions you can take to help prevent your chances of falling victim. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Phishing scams reported the most victims nationally in 2020, with more than 240,000 victims reporting about $50 million in losses. Spoofing scams saw significantly less victims, about 28,000, but victims reported a much higher money loss of more than $215 million.
In Arizona, IC3 reported over 1,000 victims of phishing and spoofing victims, with a reported loss of around $3 million.
Phishing is the use of unsolicited email, text messages, and telephone calls purportedly from a legitimate company requesting personal, financial, and/or login credentials. The scammer will often include a malicious attachment or link in the message. If you open the attachment or click on the link, they can gain access to your device.
Spoofing occurs when contact information (phone number, email, and website) is deliberately falsified to mislead and appear to be from a legitimate source. For example, the victim’s caller ID may show FBI-Phoenix as the caller, but it is just an illusion. Victims could be speaking with a caller anywhere in the world.
The FBI suggests these tips to protect yourself from phishing and spoofing scams:
- Protect your devices by using anti-virus and anti-malware software. Set the software to update automatically.
- Don’t assume that a message that looks like it is from a friend or business associate is real. Use a known phone number or email account to contact the person or company to confirm before ever clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
- Most importantly if you have any doubt—don’t click.
- Do not send money or gift cards to anybody that you do not personally know and trust.
- Never give out your personal information, including banking information, Social Security number, or other personally identifiable information, over the phone or to individuals you do not know.
If you believe you are a victim of an online scam, contact your local FBI office. Victims are also encouraged to report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Center at www.ic3.gov.