Brand impersonation, phishing, fraud, scams…the internet and our phone lines are full of them. Because we host so many virtual events at CHF, it’s on our minds, and it’s a good moment to take stock of precautions, risks, and benefits involved.
Part of conducting a free to the public online presentation (one that doesn’t require a paywall) is that we sometimes see these “bad actors.” Even if we required free RSVP registration, the lack of a requirement to pay would invite phishers to make an attempt. Phishing is the attempt to gain information by impersonating a known partner. So when it comes to CHF events, there are a couple of things we want to say about this…
- We aren’t charging for Thriving TuesdaysTM or the Brown Bag Lunch SeriesTM. If you see anyone claiming to represent CHF asking you to pay for Thriving TuesdaysTM presentations, it is definitely not us. When we do charge for an experience, such as a Virtual Conference, we create a landing page at https://clarkhulingsfund.org which integrates with the rest of the site and is secured by a 2048-bit SSL certificate that protects your transaction from interception. If you are directed to any other site for such a purpose, even if it has our name or branding on it (phishers often clone business materials; they do it to artists, banks, and eCommerce sites all the time)—feel free to let us know, but do not pay any money.
- Phishing is on the rise, across ALL social media and e-commerce platforms, both generally and particularly since COVID led to an increase in online transactions. This problem isn’t going away, and there’s nowhere to run unless everything stays in a hard-to-access proprietary venue. Part of why CHF broadcasts to Facebook, is because a lot of artists are there, and so we’re all going to need to face this challenge together in the coming months and years. Ideally, that happens by increasing awareness of phishing and of best practices for counteracting it.
- The top 5 things phishers are after are login credentials including PIN numbers, personal info, business data, medical info, or financial identifiers like account numbers). Over a 6 month period, Facebook sees as many as 4.5 million phishing attempts (stat from April-Sep 2020)—notably more than WhatsApp, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, or Google. 97% (virtually all) of those attacks are sophisticated enough that they’re not recognized by the end-user. This is why we already have a Thriving Tuesday™ in the pipeline about virtual security. We want artists to be proactive about security overall and are currently developing the material.
So be vigilant on all social media and digital platforms, because phishing attempts are a fact of life now. The more visible an organization, the more people it serves the way CHF is serving artists like you, the more people will try to pose as the online equivalent of that dinner-time phone call claiming to be from your internet provider and asking you to update your payment information, or your city water department saying they need to confirm your address. We will always be more obvious and verifiable than that. In any venue external to CHF’s own website (like Facebook), check twice, and we’ll do our best to point out fakes when we see them, even if we can’t catch them all on a moment-by-moment basis.