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Phishing scams are becoming more frequent, as well as more deceptive. Even though we’d like to think it will never happen to us, they wouldn’t be in business if no one fell for their schemes.
That’s why whenever you hear of a new threat it’s important to at least educate yourself on it, and pass it on to family and friends. That way, you will not become a victim left scrambling to figure out how to undo whatever damage has been caused.
Currently, the biggest scam flying through the Internet targets users of Apple devices.
If you use an Apple product, such as an iPhone, iPad or Mac, then you are probably used to getting the occasional message from the Apple Store regarding a purchase you have made. It could have been through the App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store or maybe Apple Music, but regardless, upon buying anything from them you get a virtual receipt in your inbox.
This latest scam tries to take advantage of that, by sending fake receipt emails to people in hopes they will unwittingly provide critical information.
The way it works is that potential victims receive an email that has the appearance of one sent by Apple, one that shows confirmation of a purchase with an insanely high subscription price. The idea is that the price will be so ridiculous, people will immediately rush to cancel it with the link provided.
Warning! Clicking the link, however, takes you to a fake-Apple webpage where you will be asked to answer varying questions, but generally some combination of debit and credit card information, Apple ID login credentials or other private details.
There is no way to know exactly what product they will try to trick you with because it changes every week.
Below is an example of what the fake email looks like:
And here is a look at a legitimate email sent from Apple:
As you can see, the only thing that doesn’t look right in the email is the price for a subscription to YouTube Red, which is why this scam could be pretty easy to fall for. While specific details of where the purchase was made and the actual price may differ from email to email, the goal is to make you think you will be on the hook for an insanely expensive subscription that you will want to end as soon as possible.
But like all online scams, there are ways to avoid becoming a victim
Apple is aware of the issue and has provided some notes on how to ensure you do not fall prey to criminals.
Pay attention to what they are asking for
One thing to keep in mind is that Apple will never request things like your Social Security Number, credit and debit card numbers, CCV codes or other personal information such as your mother’s maiden name over email.
Notice what information of yours they do not have
If you do not see your current billing address on the receipt, don’t trust it. Apple always lists that and it is something scammers are not likely to have.
Check out where the email was sent from
You should also check the sender’s email address because if it’s not from an Apple web domain, it’s not real. Otherwise, if you get a receipt for a purchase you did not make, it is advised you do not try to cancel online, but to reach out to Apple directly.
Take a moment to breathe and think
Really, in this scheme, criminals prey on panic. If you take an extra moment to just read the receipt and notice what is in it (or isn’t), you should be able to determine its validity.
And if you get a scam email?
If you get one you are confident is a fake, Apple requests you forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. They also say if you think you may have already provided your information to a non-Apple site, it’s best to change your passwords.