As a Boy Scout I loved fishing. One summer my dad took me to the store to buy some new fishing lures. I remember walking the aisle, looking at the hundreds of cool lures. There were jigs, poppers and spinners in all colors and sizes. I was fascinated with the many designs and imagined which one a fish might most likely be attracted to. I settled on one with red stripes and a white plastic tail and asked my dad what he thought of it. My dad did not fish, but he was a brilliant man and I was sure he would know which ones to choose. His simple advice was to remember that most of the lures were never designed to catch fish, but instead were made to catch people. He said a lure manufacturer succeeded if I bought the lure, regardless of whether it worked on fish or not. I have remembered that childhood lesson and have applied it to many other areas of life, particularly ones relating to money and investing.
Today we deal with a different type of fishing, known as “phishing.” This is when a person sends out deceptive emails offering something of perceived value or interest with the goal of getting the unsuspecting victim to open a link or email attachment. If the person takes the bait, the “phisher” can potentially gain access to their personal and financial information. They become helplessly hooked like a fish on a line. Like regular fishing, phishing also involves the use of lures which are designed to attract people. The lures can be very inviting and far too often people are sucked in to taking the bait. Once the lure is bitten, the hooked individual becomes a captive of the internet “phisherman.”
Phishing is used to hack personal computers, to take control of bank and credit card accounts, and to access public databases, so that valuable information and resources can be stolen from the victims. It can be very difficult to distinguish a phishing lure from a legitimate email. Like the lures in the store, they can be very convincing, even to someone alert to the risk. In the current and very public Equifax breach, where the company suggests over 100 million people may have their information at risk, some have speculated the breach may have begun with phishing.
Phishing emails can even appear to come from known sources. If it looks suspicious, don’t open it. It is better to be safe, and miss out on aunt Maye’s great recipe, or dancing cat video, than to be sorry. As with real fishing, as soon as you take the bait, the battle is over and you have lost.
Be careful and never let your guard down. You are like that champion trout, and dozens of anglers who are not interested in your well-being, are continually dangling lures in front of you. If in doubt, be a smart trout and don’t touch it. Aunt Maye’s recipe probably wasn’t that great anyway.
Hi, I'm Dan. I'm a CFP® Professional.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.
Member www.finra.org / www.sipc.org , a Registered Investment Advisor. Wyson Financial, 375 E Riverside Dr, St. George, UT 84790
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