A fun new word in our Internet vocabulary.
Here’s the definition:
The practice of using fraudulent e-mails and copies of legitimate websites to extract financial data from computer users for purposes of identity theft – from fishing in the sense of catching the unwary by offering bait.
Do you have an inkling of where this is going?
Yup, earlier this year, I got caught by a phishing scam.
Fell for the bait – hook, line, and sinker.
These people are good.
Or else I’m just incredibly gullible – which would mean I’m bordering on "How could you be so dumb"– so, I’m picking that they’re just VERY good.
Here’s how it happened.
It was in July. We were planning for our tremendous trek down The Narrows in Zion National Park. 17 miles of rocky, slippery hiking – only one night allowed in the canyon. There was a LOT going on, trying to get everything all situated.
Did we have EVERYTHING we could possibly need?
First-aid kit, hiking poles, sleeping pads and bags, WATER…knee braces…stamina.
So, I was already harried and nervous.
The morning before we were supposed to leave, I was doing my LAST check on emails. And there it was – an email warning me that my PayPal account had shown fraudulent use of a credit card, and was being blocked for further usage. "Here’s the case number, please attend to this as soon as possible."
HOOK in place.
I freaked out – which is the first thing I think they count on.
Here we are, ready to go on a HUGE trip, and someone’s stolen our credit card information.
So, I click on the link to the website. Log in. And proceed with the instructions I’m given on the screen.
LINE being pulled in.
It asks me to verify who I am. Please insert a credit card number, expiration date, and security code. For a brief second, I think this is strange, but I am so anxious about this "terrible situation right before vacation" that I comply.
To my credit, as soon as I logged out, I had a bad feeling. So, I went into my PayPal account (the REAL one) and quickly saw that there was NO report, NO case number, NO problem…
Except for my "How could you be so dumb?!"
I spent half of that day contacting PayPal, closing my account with them, changing all my credit cards, updating all the accounts connected to those cards, changing passwords – the list goes on and on. A thousand little things that I hadn’t planned on doing, just because I had "bit" on an effective lure.
So what’s the lesson? (BESIDES "How could you be so dumb?")
The devil is out there phishing.
He’s trolling for you.
And he’s very good.
He is an expert at making his fraudulent website look just like the real thing. He takes the perfect truth of God, the absolute goodness of what He has created, and twists it just so.
Love becomes lust and immorality.
Joy becomes a hunt for happiness at any cost.
Peace becomes compromising the truth.
Patience becomes asserting your "rights."
Kindness becomes apathy and selfishness.
Goodness becomes a thousand little "bad-ish" things.
Faithfulness becomes "Sunday"worship.
Gentleness becomes political correctness and meek acceptance of sin.
Self-control becomes pious pride and righteous rules.
He makes the perfect lure – tailor-made just for you. He baits it with what is most tempting. And then he casts it out there, and waits…
…for you to bite.
He’s got all the time in the world.
We must not get caught up in his scam!
He’s subtle – oh you bet! He’s deceptive – for sure! He’s successful – all too often!
But we have a better weapon. We have the Truth – both through the Spirit living inside of us, and in God’s Word.
Wise people know when to fight, and when to run. Knowing when to run is as important in spiritual battle as knowing when and how to fight!
"And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so you can endure."
(1 Corinthians 10:13)
We must be smart!
The devil lies, he attacks, he deceives, he discourages, he entices, and he makes us doubt.
He goes "phishing" – but just hit the "delete" button.
After all, he’s really just "SPAM!"
BLOG = “Blessedly Leaning On God!”