MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
With the U.S. Presidential Election fast approaching, and early voting already underway, malicious actors have been using voting themes in their phishing campaigns and this trend will likely continue to increase as Election Day nears. These themes are appearing in phishing emails or text messages, most containing a malicious link that when clicked would direct victims to a fake website designed to steal their personal and financial data.
Spoofing is when someone disguises an email address, sender name, phone number, or website URL—often just by changing one letter, symbol, or number—to convince you that you are interacting with a trusted source.
For example, you might receive an email that looks like it’s from your boss, a company you’ve done business with, or even from someone in your family—but it actually isn’t.
Criminals count on being able to manipulate you into believing that these spoofed communications are real, which can lead you to download malicious software, send money, or disclose personal, financial, or other sensitive information.
Phishing schemes often use spoofing techniques to lure you in and get you to take the bait. These scams are designed to trick you into giving information to criminals that they shouldn’t have access to.
In a phishing scam, you might receive an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and is asking you to update or verify your personal information by replying to the email or visiting a website. The web address might look similar to one you’ve used before. The email may be convincing enough to get you to take the action requested.
But once you click on that link, you’re sent to a spoofed website that might look nearly identical to the real thing—like your bank or credit card site—and asked to enter sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, banking PINs, etc. These fake websites are used solely to steal your information.
Phishing has evolved and now has several variations that use similar techniques:
Vishing scams happen over the phone, voice email, or VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) calls.
Smishing scams happen through SMS (text) messages.
Pharming scams happen when malicious code is installed on your computer to redirect you to fake websites.
How to Protect Yourself
Remember that companies generally don’t contact you to ask for your username or password.
Don’t click on anything in an unsolicited email or text message. Look up the company’s phone number on your own (don’t use the one a potential scammer is providing), and call the company to ask if the request is legitimate.
Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in any correspondence. Scammers use slight differences to trick your eye and gain your trust.
Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
Set up two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication on any account that allows it, and never disable it.
Be careful with what information you share online or on social media. By openly sharing things like pet names, schools you attended, family members, and your birthday, you can give a scammer all the information they need to guess your password or answer your security questions.
How to Protect Your Vote
Know when, where, and how you will vote.
Seek out election information from trustworthy sources, verify who produced the content, and consider their intent.
Report potential election crimes—such as disinformation about the manner, time, or place of voting—to the FBI.
If appropriate, make use of in-platform tools offered by social media companies for reporting suspicious posts that appear to be spreading false or inconsistent information about voting and elections.
Research individuals and entities to whom you are making political donations.
For more information on ways to vote and how to avoid becoming a victim click the following links: