“Phishing” is the broad nickname given to any fraudulent request for sensitive or personal information by someone pretending to be a trustworthy organization. They can range from ridiculous (“I desperately require your help in transferring the lately deposed King of Nigeria’s $2 billion dollars in asserts to the U.S…”) to pretty convincing (“Please follow this link to verify your user name and password if you wish your account to remain active.”)
Scammers may pose as your teen’s email provider, online gaming service, bank, or school. They can pretend to be the customer service department of eBay, iTunes, or Facebook. Does your child know how to recognize a phishing scam from the real thing?
Phishing emails sometimes (but not always) contain grammar and spelling mistakes, but may appear very official-looking complete with company logos. They always ask you to respond with sensitive information by responding to the email, calling a phone number, or clicking on a link to fill out a form.
Teach kids never to follow links, view any attachments, or respond to emails from unknown senders, especially when they’re asking for personal information. (The links can take them to a fake “secure” site where their details are stolen, and attachments can include viruses.) Phishing emails should be reported to email@example.com and the organization being impersonated – and kids should tell a parent, too.
If your child thinks the email might be real, help him or her contact the company’s customer service department as found on their official website or on your actual account statements or credit cards – not through the address or number listed in the phishing email.
Though kids may be capable of managing difficult software installations and navigating through a complex web of social networks, most teens and tweens are relatively gullible and often respond to authority if it “looks” legit. Don’t let your child fall into a phishing net because of it.
Teaching Kids to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams by Tim Woda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.