Can You Spot a Phishing Scam?

  • Written by Bridget Black

Phishing scams are everywhere, particularly during the holiday season as cybercriminals seek to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. These types of online scams can be particularly devastating, with victims often seeing their entire savings wiped out, their identity stolen and personal information published on the dark web.

Cybercriminals are getting smarter every day. In order to stay ahead of them, it’s important that you remain up to date with their latest tricks and tactics. Educate yourself, your friends and your family about the types of scams that online crooks like to carry out around the holiday period to ensure the safety of those close to you.

What is phishing?

A phishing scam is an attempt by a cybercriminal to trick you into sharing personal details. This can include your personally identifiable information, financial details and online account login information.

In order to undertake a phishing scam, a cybercriminal will imitate a trusted business such as your bank, internet service provider or workplace. They will contact you, usually via text or email, and ask you to confirm personal details as a matter of urgency.

For example, you might receive an email from “your bank”, informing you that there has been suspicious activity on your account. The email will ask you to login (via a provided link) to confirm nothing is amiss. 

This link will take you to a page that appears to be genuine but is actually completely fabricated. The cybercriminal is hoping that you will login and provide them with all of your financial details, which they can either sell on the dark web or use to wipe your accounts.

Common phishing scams

There are many different types of phishing online scams, all with the same aim of stealing your personal information.

Spear phishing

A phishing attack generally targets thousands of potential victims, with criminals hoping that a few will fall for their scam. In contrast, a spear phishing attack is highly selective and usually focuses upon a single member of a workplace environment.

A spear phisher is hoping that their victim will click on links in an email or open malware ridden attachments so that they can infiltrate a company’s server, steal corporate information and destroy systems. 


Whaling is very similar to spear phishing in that the victim is well-identified and thoroughly researched before the attack is carried out. The main difference between the two is that a cybercriminal undertaking a whaling scam will pretend to be someone within an organisation, usually a CEO or senior executive. They will attempt to convince their target to share personal information or transfer large sums of money, and are often successful in their goal.


Also known as “voice phishing”, vishing occurs when a scammer carries out a phishing attack over the phone or via voicemail. They may pretend that you have won a prize or are being offered a free gift, providing that you share your credit card details.

How can I protect myself?

Cybercriminals know that more of us are shopping online this holiday season and are looking to capitalise on this opportunity by conducting wide-scale phishing attacks. 

Follow these cyber safety tips to protect yourself and those around you across the Christmas and New Year periods. 

  • Don’t click on suspicious links: Avoid clicking on suspicious links in emails, text messages and on websites. Should you receive a message from “your bank” asking you to check your bank balance, open a new browser and type the URL rather than following a link.
  • Research online stores before purchasing: It’s always a good rule of thumb to make sure that an online e-commerce website offers customer service and has a social media presence before making a purchase. These are indicators of a legitimate company, not a criminal trying to steal your personal details.
  • Be wary of all communications you receive: If you get an email from your boss asking for your phone number, call them yourself. Check the email address carefully for odd spellings and use of punctuation before responding to any messages.
  • Install a phishing filter: A phishing email filter will automatically scan all incoming messages for signs of spam and move any suspicious messages to your junk folder. It is not fool-proof, but can be a valuable tool in protecting you against online scams

Doing your holiday shopping is stressful enough without entertaining the risk of phishing attacks. Keep your guard up and share this information with those around you so that we can all stay safe online. 

Bridget Black is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.

News Reports


Pallets are usually wooden crates or interlocked wooden panels that are employed mainly to store and transport goods from one place to another. Plastics, metals, and compressed, fluted paper hav...

Ester Adams - avatar Ester Adams

5 Powerful Secrets For A Happy And Healthy Relationship

Your relationship can’t work unless you don’t. The same should be expected of your partner as well, however, many couples get stuck in petty fights and insignificant arguments instead of inv...

Chloe Taylor - avatar Chloe Taylor

Keto Food: The Best Food Products for New Zealanders

New Zealand is composed of South Island and North Island, the two major landmasses divided by the 22-kilometer Cook Strait. New Zealand’s territory also includes several small islands, such as S...

Ester - avatar Ester


Elderly care programs in Australia is to enable older people and people with disabilities to remain in their houses as long as possible. The flexibility of these services means a well-funded pro...

Ester Adams - avatar Ester Adams

What do we know so far about the 2021 Australian Tennis Open?

The build-up to the 2021 Australian Open has been hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, but new details of how it will be handled have recently emerged. What effect will the current health crisis ...

News Co - avatar News Co

Looking for the Best Truck Mechanics

Whether you’re a driver of a truck or you manage a fleet of trucks, the need for truck repair can’t be stressed enough. Certainly, there are many ways of limiting your risks for complicated an...

News Co - avatar News Co

How to Choose the Best Aluminum Windows for your Home

If you’re planning a home building, extension, or renovation project, you’ll need to remember that windows are going to be one of the most important factors to consider. The windows of your hous...

News Co - avatar News Co

Why Dust Monitoring Is Crucial In Your Job Site

Controlling hazards, such as respiratory diseases, can be difficult in the workplace. Many of these conditions are due to exposure to dust and other airborne substances. Inhaling dust can cause variou...

Ester - avatar Ester

Health & Wellness

How to maintain a balanced lifestyle while single

News Co Media - avatar News Co Media

Are you envious of someone who appears to have the perfect relationship? No relationship is as perfect as it looks from the outside, but some couples feel happier than others. For instance, they e...

Top Reasons for a Miscarriage

News Co - avatar News Co

There’s no denying the fact that motherhood is the most beautiful phase of a woman’s life. however, the tables can turn if she suffers a miscarriage. Earlier, this wasn’t a common phenomen...

Dental Treatment: Are They Covered by Medicare?

News Co - avatar News Co

Dental care is crucial for maintaining oral hygiene and overall health. Yet dental care costs are not standardized – they differ across dentists and dental health professionals. Unfortunately...

3 Things to Know Before Getting Denture Implants

Ester Adams - avatar Ester Adams

Brisbane is known for its strong focus on technology and innovation, which makes it no surprise that various inventions are constantly popping up in the city. The dental industry, for one, is no...

Writers Wanted

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion