Local Technology Expert Warns About “Phishing” Scams

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

A Fort Smith small business owner was the target of an internet phishing scheme. Noah Steffey received an email appearing to be from the Better Business Bureau in New York.

The email said a customer had filed a complaint against Steffey's business. "That was real concerning to me," said Steffey.

He said the message was vague, but it referred him to the attached file which it claimed the original customer complaint. Steffey said he didn't feel comfortable clicking on a link from an email address he wasn't familiar with so he decided to call the B.B.B. for more information.

"When you call the number to the Better Business Bureau in New York, the real one, there's an automated recording that comes on and tells people who call that there's a scam - that their system has been compromised," said Steffey. "They call it a phishing scam with a P-H."

Tom Kirkham, a local small business technology expert, said in a phishing scam millions of infected emails are sent.

"All it takes is a very small percentage of the people to click on those, and they capture them," said Kirkham. "So they're just going on a fishing expedition. They know there's a bunch of fish out there, and if they just catch a few of them, they're ready to go."

He said these kinds of scams have become a major industry.

"It's organized crime," said Kirkham. "This isn't teenagers getting hacking bragging rights to their friends. This is a multi-billion dollar worldwide economy."

When examining a suspicious email, Kirkham suggests looking for spelling and grammatical errors. He said many of the scams originate overseas so the grammar and spelling gets lost in translation.

Kirkham recommends computer users stay current on security updates and be sure to have antivirus software. He said it's also a good idea to use complex passwords with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.