If you’re not familiar with the term, phishing is similar to fishing – but in a much more technological sense. In traditional fishing, you drop a line in the water and wait for a bit. With cyber phishing, you throw out thousands – even millions – of lines and hope to get a “bite” via your website.

If you weren’t already sure, phishing is illegal. But that certainly doesn’t stop individuals from pretending they are legitimate sources and tossing a line your way.

Phishing for Barclay’s Customers

Phishing has been around almost as long as the internet. As internet consumers get increasingly savvy, so do the various ploys scammers will try. One of the latest attempts by scammers is disguised as a legitimate concerns by Barclay’s Bank.

Whoever is behind the scheme is sending out email notices alerting customers to ‘unknown activity’ on their Barclay’s credit card. The official-looking email encourages the recipient to take fast action to verify the charges and review their account for suspicious activity.

The email provides the link for the customers to click through in order to “kindly review your account”. But instead of taking you to the Barclay’s official website, the link takes you to a very unofficial rip-off website that could easily pass as the real deal. Worried customers quickly login to check for fraud…and allow the phishers to steal their login and password to create real fraud at their leisure.

Well played, scammers. Well played.

Avoid the Bait, Avoid the Net

A sophisticated phishing operation like this one can be hard to detect if you have a Barclay’s account. Of course, since scammers are usually sending out thousands – possibly millions – of similar emails, it may be that you get notified about “suspicious activity” on a card you don’t even own.

That makes it very easy to avoid the bait and the trap.

But what do you do when you receive an email like this and it could be real? You really do have an account with the bank the email claims to be from. What do you do next?

The answer is simple. If Barclay’s sent you a real email about a problem, you should be able to see the communication when you log into your Barclay’s account. Never follow the link in an email – it could be a fake one looking to steal information.

Instead, type in the URL for the bank in the address bar and navigate to the real bank’s website. Login there and check for messages or problems. Or, if the simple thought of logging in anywhere online makes you sweat a little, just call customer service and follow up on the email. A real problem is something customer service representatives can tell you about.

A scam will have no records with your real bank and you can go ahead and report the spam and phishing attempt while you have a representative on the line.

Barclays Bank