“Ruh-roh … I just got a Facebook friend request from ‘you,’” said the text that came as I was feeding the dogs and deciding what I would make for myself for dinner.
I got a second text from another friend a few minutes later, while I was working on a foolproof Facebook password that I hope is foolproofier than the one I had had until a few minutes earlier.
Phishing scams must be a lucrative business, or else so many people wouldn’t be trying to obtain my personal information all the time. So far this week, I’ve gotten calls from “Denver,” “Newton, Kansas,” and “Clayville, New York.” I didn’t answer, but I’ll bet the callers eventually would want to know something about my bank accounts.
The most insidious attempts come from people posing as Facebook itself. I have gotten about a half-dozen messages from “Facebook” telling me that a user has reported my page as violating community standards and so the page is suspended until I verify certain information. At first I was alarmed, and then I took a chance on ignoring the messages. It’s funny, but for a suspended page it remains remarkably vibrant and usable.
The first text came from my pastor, so my mind drifted to a fantasy where some demon approaches a few lowlifes and proclaims, “Follow me, and I will make you phishers of men,” and they descend into a dark place where they spend the rest of eternity contacting people to tell them their car warranty is about to expire, their credit card has been suspended, or their grandson needs bail money and the cops are insisting they be paid in Walmart gift cards.
Why do they keep trying? Was H.L. Mencken right when he said, “No one has ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public”? Do that many people willingly turn over their passwords and Social Security numbers and bank account information to these scammers? I have to conclude enough people are fooled to make it worth their while.
We live in ridiculous times, and we have to be on constant alert against rascals. Best advice: If something seems phishy, it probably is.