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Phishing is a common cybercrime that involves hackers impersonating legitimate organizations in order to trick users into divulging their personal information and account credentials. This information is then used to gain unauthorized access to victim’s systems and files. In addition, hackers use this information to steal sensitive data or to spread malware such as ransomware.

Phishers often try to make their attacks look more authentic by using spoofing techniques like DNS poisoning, or graphic rendering (the process of uploading an email as an image rather than text in order to avoid detection). Other phishing tactics include the use of generic greetings such as “Dear Customer,” and links to official-looking websites that ask for personal or confidential information. These sites may contain malware that silently eavesdrops or installs malicious software.

One of the most alarming types of phishing attacks are those that mimic a person’s employer or business. Attackers claim to be a supervisor, CFO or CEO and request that the victim wire funds or make a fake purchase without the normal approval process. These scams are especially dangerous for businesses that use direct deposit.

If you suspect that you have been a victim of phishing, it is important to take immediate action. First, notify your credit card providers: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion so that they can place a freeze on your credit reports to prevent criminals from opening new accounts or taking out loans in your name. Second, alert the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Finally, if you gave out any financial information in response to a phishing attack, contact the police department and file a report with your local law enforcement agency.