PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Spear-phishing is the latest way for crooks to get all your information simply by using your information as bait.
According to the Better Business Bureau, cyber scammers have learned that emails are the best way to gather case sensitive information like your home address and bank account numbers.
How do they do it?
Cyber-scammers have already collected personal information from you, and know what emails you receive on a daily basis.
With that information, scammers mimic an email from your favorite retailer, financial institution, or even an acquaintance with an attached link.
In the phony email, they explain all sorts of "urgent" and legitimate-sounding reasons as to why you need to press the link and give them more of your personal information.
In this link, cyber scammers embed viruses and malware, and once you press the link, you are immediately infected.
Within seconds, cyber scammers can access all your online usernames and passwords that range from your social media account to your bank account.
A Local 10 News viewer was targeted with a legitimate-looking email claiming to be from Citi Bank. Luckily, the viewer was smart enough to call the bank directly.
Citi offers advice at its security center about how to spot a spoof email and details on its email security practices that help customers identify emails from Citi.
According to the BBB, here is how you can avoid being a victim of spear-phishing:
First, know this: most companies, banks and agencies typically don't request personal information by email. Call them directly if you suspect there is a problem. Don't call the phone number included in the email -- use the phone number you have on file or can find yourself. Never blindly follow a link to a secure site from an email either; enter it manually in a new search.
Next, it truly cannot be stressed enough -- install anti-malware software and make sure it stays updated. This is applicable not just for PCs but also tablets, cellphones and anything else that connects to the internet. Also, strong passwords that are changed at least four times a year will help keep cyber criminals from sniffing around your stuff.
Finally, be cyber aware by being conscious about what is posted on your social networks. Save the vacation photos until after you get home. Thoughtfully post about what you like and review all of your social networks to make sure you're not being too personal in your postings. This is the information criminals like to use in their emails. You may unknowingly invite a friend you really don't want and become a target of a phishing expedition. Be the tip of the spear. Not the target.
Click here for more cyber tips from the BBB.