Phishing scams are types of scams wherein the fraudster attempts to obtain the personal information of the victim. For instance, they may seek to obtain the person’s credit card info, passwords, Social Security information, and other data. Phishing usually involves the fraudster setting up a fake situation, such as a fake sweepstakes or a fake job interview. The person would then be required to provide their private information in order to claim their prize or proceed with an interview.

From there, the scammer may be able to use the person’s accounts, collect money, or conduct an overall identify theft.

What Are Some Types of Phishing Scams to Watch out For?

Phishing scams can take many forms. The most common forms include scams over postal mail, or "vishing" (voice phishing) scams conducted over the phone. Some newer types of phishing scams to watch for include:

  • Malware-Based Phishing: This is where the scammer uses fake malware or anti-virus ads to obtain the person’s info. For instance, the scam may involve a fake pop-up ad stating that the person needs to provide their credit card info in order to purchase new firewalls or anti-virus software.
  • "SMiShing": This is involves SMS or text messaging on cell phones. Here, the victim may get a fake text alert asking for their password or bank account number.
  • Search Engine Phishing: This type of phishing uses search engines to reroute a person to a different website while searching for info online. The website is bogus and usually requires the user to fill out a form to proceed.
  • Spear Phishing: This is where the fraudsters send mass fake e-mail messages to companies and businesses, hoping to obtain employee information and other company data

Basically, any new types of communication, especially electronic/digital messages sent over the internet, are prone to becoming an avenue for phishing scams. Thus, it’s important that you only share your information with parties that are trusted, and that you do so over secure internet connections.

Are There Any Legal Penalties for Phishing Scams?

Persons or groups caught perpetrating phishing scams may face legal consequences. In some cases, this can result in serious misdemeanor charges, which are punished with criminal fines and/or some jail times. Phishing scams that involve the altering or manipulation of federal websites or the deceit of federal officials can result in federal felony charges.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Phishing Scam Issues?

Phishing scams are abundant and can catch large numbers of unsuspecting consumers every year. You may need to hire a criminal lawyer if you suspect that you or your company has been a victim of a phishing scam. Your attorney can help determine if there has been a violation and whether you have any legal recourse available. Also, your lawyer can help you if you need to be represented in court.