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Phishing is when someone uses fake emails or texts to get you to share valuable personal information – like account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords. Scammers use your information to steal your money, your identity, or both. They also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network. If you click on a link, they can install ransomware or other programs that can lock you out of your data.

Scammers often use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know. Here’s a real world example featuring Netflix. Police in Ohio shared a screenshot of a phishing email designed to steal personal information. The email claims the user’s account is on hold because Netflix is “having some trouble with your current billing information” and invites the user to click on a link to update their payment method.

Netflix phishing scam screenshot

Before you click on a link or share any of your sensitive information:

  • Check it out. If you have concerns about the email, contact the company directly. But look up their phone number or website yourself. That way, you’ll know you’re getting the real company and not about to call a scammer or follow a link that will download malware.
  • Take a closer look. While some phishing emails look completely legit, bad grammar and spelling can tip you off to phishing. Other clues: Your name is missing, or you don’t even have an account with the company. In the Netflix example, the scammer used the British spelling of “Center” (Centre) and used the greeting, “Hi Dear.” Listing only an international phone number for a U.S.-based company is also suspicious.
  • Report phishing emails. Forward them to (an address used by the FTC) and to (an address used by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, which includes ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions, and law enforcement agencies). You can also report phishing to the FTC at Also, let the company or person that was impersonated know about the phishing scheme. For Netflix, forward the message to

For more tips and information, visit this article on phishing. Then test your knowledge by playing this game.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Sheila G
December 27, 2018
I was being scammed last week by a scammer using two of my friends and they are my classmates that I graduated with back in 69 both of them were hacked and then they were trying to get to me I have one phone number that maybe you can use that they used which was 202 930 510 8th I caught him though because I was scammed last year in May for $26,000 so I know what to look for now they wanted my password and my email no go I would never do it again because they were using both of my friends I know what to look for now but I know you guys need to know this too but they were using that number and then they started using another 202 number which I have already deleted from my phone they are not going to pick on me and I caught them so I haven't heard a word from them and I will not answer them again they said that they were Facebook Lottery and I asked him I said how much money do I need to cover this and they said $950 well I looked up Facebook Lottery fraud and a gentleman was frauded for the $950 plus more money so I knew this was a scam this is just to let you know that this is twice already that I had tried to be scam but the first one I really was scammed and boy did that hurt and I don't know if I'll ever get that money back I know all the peoples names and the phone numbers from the first one I don't know what they're doing about it but I've turned them into the FTC Health and Human Resources and also a detective here in Uniontown where I live which is Pennsylvania have not heard a word from no one so I don't know if I will be fortunate enough to get any or all of it back I was a fool but did not know because my husband passed away two years ago but back then it was a year ago not quite and I was just beside myself but thank you for informing us about this I knew all about it but I'm glad you're letting everyone else know thank you very much
December 26, 2018
Had a lot of scam emails " to hurry and update your health ins. by the 15th of December.Some days were getting 3 or 4 emails of the same thing.I would just delete the emails without even opening them.When I deceided on my health insurance I did a lot of searching and making sure I am talking to a real agent.Finally I got a good agent and made out great better than I ever had.I laughed when they said hurry got only a few days left I laughed because I had gotten mine in the middle of November.They were looking for my personal info if I tried to apply.I knew because I went thru ones I checked on that were legit and double checked after to make sure I talked to right person. Later about the 18th of dec. I got a call the call stated only one word and I know where that would come from as I get that word sometimes when I have a reminder for me but no others.Any ways with this one girls voice sounded like she had garbage in her mouth and asked me if I needed help on choosing a health provider right then I knew that it was a scam as the deadline was 3 days earlier.Told her I got my new ins a month ago and she hung up quick.I notified my business call I got that they may have an employee doing this and they will alert higher ups.
Florida Road S…
December 26, 2018
Best thing to do is never respond to any email of this nature. If you have an account with the company go to their website and log in with your credentials to check it out.
December 26, 2018
According to an email my account at Bank of America needed updating. Ha Ha no account at Bank of America, did not respond and sent it to Spam where it belonged.
Nice try scamm…
January 04, 2019

In reply to by Conniesan

I also got the Bank if America email. Lol!! Nice try. We have never banked there. Also the number 716 986 9622 keeps calling people we no longer speak to and leaving voice mails multiple times a day; saying it is important to contact them and saying we hadn’t responded to the letter they sent. They are also using an email account that have not been used in over 10yrs.
Frank Simmons, Jr.
December 26, 2018
Thanks for the info.
December 26, 2018
Thank you for the article!
December 26, 2018
For about two weeks up to Christmas, I received several phone messages from PNC Bank regarding problems with my account. I was supposed to call them ASAP. When I didn't call them back, I started receiving text messages from them regarding problems with my account, with direction to immediately call the number provided to me. MUST be a REALLY big problem with my PNC account, considering I don't bank with them. Tried contacting PNC's toll free number to mention the scam to them. No luck because I don't have an account with them. Gave up and called a local PNC branch and spoke to an actual human. They're aware of the scam.
Patricia C
December 27, 2018
These companies that require us to use a credit card or bank account need to provide the extra security. I would rather send a check monthly to an address. Its getting to the point that I will soon only do business with a company I can visit in person. We will go back to doing business that way one day. We are way to trusting of this internet thing. It has caused nothing but problems because it is too easy to be anonymous.
The Truth
December 28, 2018
Banks are complicit.... Any monies taken out could be traced... Same with telemarketing. The telemarketer refers you to a US vendor that will pay the telemarketer. Simple, just trace the funds.
December 28, 2018
Most people don't have the patience or the time, but these types of attacks are being used because they a automated. In some cases, I have enjoyed a talk, text or Email with the threat actor and just string them along. I have had a 45 min discussion about the call from Microsoft about the virus on my computer that they would fix. Just asking questions and not being able to follow simple instructions. I had an Email thread (Over 30 replies) with someone about buying Gift Cards for the boss. I "bought" the cards. I have sent the images of the code. Why didn't you get the Email. Sent Test Email - why did you not get that one. And so on. When the interaction requires a person to handle the discussion, the cost grows exponentially. The more this happens the Attackers will find other means of attacks. Just my .02!
Roberto Sumatr…
December 28, 2018
Assume everything you read on the internet is a grim calculated lie composed by a psychopath bend on your destruction and impoverishment.
David matlack
December 30, 2018
Netflix email scam almost got me on 12/29/18. Called email number and got a guy with British accent saying someone got into my account and he needed the last 5 digits of payment credit card to fix/reset account. Told him I would give him last 4. He didn't like that. Someone did change email address on account. Got that fixed directly through Netflix. No card info was exposed. Open up Netflix on TV. Go to settings bottom left. Check email address.
December 30, 2018
If you click on the link in a phishing scam email it installs malware onto your phone or computer. If you contact the sender in any way they know they have reached a live email address and will sell it or use it for other scams. You will be overwhelmed with other phishing scam attempts. Try not to be afraid or so curious. Use your own info to contact any company you do business with, never what they provide in the email. And if you don’t have an account with a company then rest assured it’s only a scam. It’s a good idea to report it to the company (usually a bank) so they can take action. Bottom line: do your own independent research BEFORE you take any action. These scammers are PROFESSIONAL CRIMINALS who are skilled at stealing other people’s money and identity. Be very careful.
Brian Stephenson
January 02, 2019
very helpfull
January 02, 2019
Last few months I keep getting a popup on my computer stating its from Microsoft and that if I don't call & update my information I will be locked out of my computer. I tried calling Microsoft customer service # but was never able to speak with anyone.
Concerned for …
January 08, 2019
Beware of people trying to GIVE you your money BACK! It is common for scammers to try to steal by offering to GIVE YOU A REFUND. This kind of scam usually involves Western Union. Beware of anyone trying to send you to wire money.
January 10, 2019
I think the internet maybe the way humans are getting taken over instead of the Terminator way.
the guy
January 25, 2019
u is bery hefpul
Msh K
March 08, 2019
I had been getting calls from numbers that have the first 6 numbers with the last four numbers being different. For the past week I have been getting calls on my cell phone from what appears to be international phone numbers most have 011 codes indicated on my caller id. Along with the numbers displayed has been Belarus, Lithuania, Tanzania, and a couple others. Of course I have not answered any of the calls. I have been blocking each number as they come in. I contacted my cell phone carrier Verizon & reported the issue. They said they would block my number from receiving international calls, do not solicit, do not market lists. I told them that I had already signed up on the website for the "Do Not Call List" for my cell and home phone numbers. The rep @ Verizon told me it would take 24-48 hours to take effect. . I asked them about this problem. The rep just told me I may have updated or input my name on a site on the internet that could have caused this, but it was a speculation on the rep's part. Since then I have received only one or two of these international calls. Since I've learned that scammers can disguise the number they are calling from with any name &/or number, who knows if the calls are actually from overseas. In any event , I do not answer any calls that I don't recognize or that seem strange. I'm wondering if people have reported these type of calls.
March 20, 2019
are the $500 Gift Card from Netflix emails a scam - I tend to think so
April 11, 2019
I get scammers all the time that offer me an incredible deal. Free rent to help them with their business. Very low rent etc. but they can only send me pictures. Can never show me apt because they are out of the country. If I send them money they will send me the keys. Can’t believe anyone falls for that one. Next most common is where they send me a check. I get to keep several hundred and I must deposit their check and forward a good deal of the money to a place of their choosing. First time this happened I went to my bank and they told me that the check will initually appear to be good but that eventually it won’t clear and I will be our all the money sent out. This just hs our Ed again, though this time the check was for prepayment for a job I would do.
Just Me
September 15, 2019
I have received e-mails and phone calls from numerous scammers. Everyone from "Publishers Clearing House" (PCH does NOT call if you win) to "Microsoft" (Microsoft does not Cold Call anyone). I told the Microsoft scammer that I know they don't call anyone, and they said, "Oh, I know. We don't. We need to get into your computer...." I hung up at this point and they CALLED RIGHT BACK! I contacted Microsoft and told them about the scam, leaving the number called from. About an hour later, the scammer called again and I informed them that I had turned the number over. They weren't too happy. I think they were cursing me, but I couldn't tell since they were speaking a foreign language. LOL I got an email from a Netflix scammer today. If you hold your mouse over the link without clicking, you can see where the link sends you in the lower left hand corner of your screen. Just don't click on it.
October 30, 2020
I just got a fake Netflix email. It said, “Your account is incorrect. If you don’t correct it soon, we will limit your account.” I found this confusing because my dad shares his account with me and I’m pretty young. It also wasn’t asking for my info. I immediately checked the email. I kid you not, the email was something wiggle woo@ . I blocked and deleted the email. What the heck!
March 15, 2020
I was forced to contact Netflix because I could not see a series. I was prompted to update payment acct., I did moved there, but the info was the same so I didn't have to put in new info. So I contacted the online chat and was prompted to contact you. Netflix was paid for so there should have been no problem. It's fixed now. PLEAS ADVISE
Dcsilva1 't us…
July 15, 2020
They test message me twice From this numbers +1 (929) 343-9978 And +1 (951) 642-4801 asking for my credit card information.
Phishing A T & T
August 03, 2020
Got a fake A T & T phishing scam stating there was a problem with my payment and to call 9-097-688-411 The number it came from showed 1-410-200-501.