Report: Financial services most impersonated industry in phishing scams

Scammers are increasingly impersonating financial services companies as they seek to trick unsuspecting computer users into divulging sensitive information through phishing emails and websites, according to a report released today by cybersecurity firm Vade.

Financial services overtook cloud services as the most impersonated industry in phishing attempts in 2021, Vade said in its most recent year-in-review of phishing scams. Fake websites and emails claiming to be from financial service providers accounted for 35% of all phishing attempts tracked by the company during the year. By comparison, the sector accounted for 29% of phishing attempts in 2020.

Vade attributed the increase to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global economy, with business and individuals taking advantage of government-backed business loans as well as payment deferrals or “holidays” from consumer banks and credit unions. As those payment moratoriums expired in 2021, the bills came due. “This is a significant weapon for phishers to wield against businesses and individual citizens who borrowed or deferred,” Vade said in the report.

Still, when it came to individual businesses, Microsoft and Facebook were the most imitated companies by phishers. Vade also reported that 78% of phishing emails were sent during weekdays, with Mondays and Tuesdays being the most popular days for the scams.

To help banks educate consumers about how to recognize phishing attempts from scammers pretending to be their bank, ABA provides free resources through its popular campaign, #BanksNeverAskThat.