Sunday, October 16, 2016

Challenge Your Kid To Find The Phishy Clues In This Text

I received this text message last Thursday:

From: support@alexandra...
We are sorry to inform you that your WellsFargoAccount is locked. Go to Thank you- SMSid{MBN295M}

Show your kids the picture of this text. Can they spot the clues that make it clearly suspicious?

  1. Odd sender. Why would a text from my bank come from an unfamiliar address at an unrelated organization?
  2. Space removal in key phrase. Notice how the spaces have been removed from “Wells Fargo Account.” This makes the bank name stand out on its own line and dominate the attention of a quick glance. Clever.
  3. Bank name in weird position of a weird link. The familiar “wellsfargo” appears in a link with 5 components instead of the typical 3. No bank would have a link like that with so many parts to the left of the final “.com”. Even odder, notice how the leftmost part of the link is two w’s followed by a v instead of the familiar three w’s.
  4. Strange company component. The part of the link just to the left of the final “.com” is where we’d expect to see the company name. If you look closely at the whole link, it actually directs to “” and not “”. Definitely bogus!

How’d your kids do?

The narrow point of this exercise is to show your kids what a typical phishing text looks like. That way, they’ll be less likely to impulsively bite on one.

The broader point of this exercise is to remind your kids to approach any communication about money with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism. Slow down. Read everything carefully. Think.

Acting quickly on impulse just gets us in trouble with money. Our impulse to tap on link. Our impulse to spend. Our impulse to be like others. Marketers and scammers prey on those impulses. Help your kids learn to let impulse and emotion subside so the analytical, skeptical part of the brain can take charge.

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