A smartphone with a financial chart and a fishing rod next to it

In the last few years, stock trading apps have become a go-to for many investors in the UK. But with convenience comes risk. Ever heard of phishing scams? They exist and they are trying to get their hands on your hard-earned money. But fear not! This article will educate you on how to avoid these threats.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a deceptive technique used by cybercriminals to trick individuals into sharing sensitive information. Examples of sensitive information can be login credentials, credit card numbers, or even personal identification details. The term “phishing” is derived from the word “fishing,” drawing a parallel to the idea of “baiting” victims, much like how a fisherman baits fish.

Here’s how it typically works:

  • Deceptive Emails: The scammer sends an email pretending to be from a reputable company, bank, or service provider. This email might ask you to “verify” your account details or claim that your account has been compromised.
  • Fake Websites: These emails often contain links to fake websites that look identical to the real ones. Once you enter your details on these sites, the scammers capture your information.
  • Attachments with Malware: Some phishing emails come with attachments. When you open an attachment, a program starts that can install malware on your device, giving scammers access to your data.

Below you have a few examples of common typical phishing scams:

  1. The ‘Account Verification’ Scam: You receive an email from what appears to be your bank, asking you to click on a link and verify your account details. The link then redirects you to a fake website set up by the scammers, on which they try to get hold of your login details.
  2. The ‘You’ve Won a Prize!’ Scam: An email claims you’ve won a lottery or a prize, and you need to click on a link to claim it. The catch? They will ask for your personal and financial details and then use them to get to your money.
  3. The ‘Invoice Due’ Scam: You get an email with an invoice for a purchase you never made. Curious or concerned, you click on the link provided, leading you to a fake website or downloading malware.

By understanding the tactics and tricks used in phishing, you can better protect yourself from getting tricked by these scams. Always be cautious and double-check before sharing any personal information online.

Why Stock Trading Apps?

Stock trading apps manage huge amounts of money, making them really attractive targets for scammers. Here’s a breakdown:

High Volume of TransactionsWith numerous transactions daily, it’s easier for a scam to go unnoticed. The scammer has less risk to get caught.
Sensitive Financial InformationAccess to an account means access to funds and personal data.
Trust in Digital PlatformsUsers often trust apps, thinking they’re secure, making them vulnerable.

How to Spot a Phishing Scam

Phishing scams have become more and more sophisticated, making them harder to notice, but there are still signs that can help you identify them. Here’s a more detailed guide on spotting these deceptive tactics:

  1. Check the URL: Always ensure the app’s website starts with ‘https://’, indicating a secure connection. Look out for misspelled domain names, extra characters (like figures), or an extra word connected to the expected word, as these are common in fake URLs.
  2. Grammar and Spelling: Phishing attempts often have glaring spelling and grammar mistakes. If an email or message seems poorly written, be cautious.
  3. Unsolicited Requests: If you receive unexpected requests for personal information or money transfers, it’s a red flag. Legitimate companies rarely ask for sensitive information via email.
  4. Mismatched Email Addresses: The display name might show “Your Bank,” but the actual email address could be a random set of characters. Always check the sender’s email address.
  5. Too Good to Be True: Offers that seem too good to be true, such as winning a lottery you never entered, are classic phishing tactics.
  6. Generic Greetings: Phishing emails often start with generic greetings like “Dear Customer” instead of using your actual name.
  7. Threatening Language: Some phishing emails use scare tactics, claiming your account will be closed or legal action will be taken if you don’t respond immediately.
  8. Check for Digital Signatures: Legitimate companies often have digital signatures to verify the authenticity of their emails. If an email isn’t digitally signed, proceed with caution.
  9. Suspicious Attachments: Be wary of unsolicited emails with attachments. Don’t click on the attachment as it can contain malware. If the malware is downloaded there is a great risk that it can harm your device or steal your data.
  10. Asking for Personal Information: Legitimate companies will never ask you to confirm personal information, like passwords or Social Security numbers, via email.

By being aware of these signs, you know what to look out for in emails and messages to make sure you don’t fall victim to phishing scams. Always remember: when in doubt, don’t click!

Protecting Yourself

For you to be safe, you should follow these steps:

  • Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): This adds extra protection as login requires more than just a password. Read more about 2FA in stock apps here.
  • Regularly Update Your App: Developers often release updates to patch vulnerabilities.
  • Avoid Public Wi-Fi: Public networks can be insecure, making it easier for hackers to get hold of your data.

What to Do If You Suspect a Phishing Attempt?

  1. Don’t Panic: Stay calm and don’t click on any suspicious links.
  2. Contact Your App Provider: Inform them of the suspicious activity.
  3. Change Your Passwords: Better safe than sorry. Update your passwords regularly.

Always remember to prioritize your security when using stock trading apps. By following the steps above, you allow yourself to enjoy the benefits of stock trading apps while minimizing the threat of phishing scams. Stay safe, and happy trading! Read our full guide on stock trading app security here.