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I think it is appropriate the week after the opening day of Trout Season to talk about phishing. For those of you that are unaware phishing is the process of using email, the telephone or text to pose as a legitimate institution to convince you to provide sensitive data or financial help to them. Recently several of our clients have contacted me regarding a recent email that they have received that caused them much consternation.  Here is a copy of the email received: (sensitive data has been blurred)

Phishing Letter Example

When I received the first one of these I initially was concerned until I read the full text of the message. They scare you just enough to make you think that this is a real message from someone who has intellectual property rights. Upon closer examination, you can see that this is clearly poorly written and not at all how most professional photographers protect their intellectual property.

How Do I Know That This is Not a Real Violation?


First it is important to know that Higher Images has a license to use most Getty Images for a monthly fee. We pay hundreds of dollars a month for quality images to avoid situations just like this one here. If you happen to have put a photo you have pulled online onto your website for any reason, I would immediately let us know so we can replace it with one that is licensed.

Second, they would follow up with a legal letter and a paper copy of your website with dates and information had you been in violation of their property rights. We have seen this happen over our 20 year career to our clients and prospective clients. Sometimes we get them and have to show our license for the photos in question. It always happens the same way and never with a form submission to your site.

Finally the link that they have provided is not to a personal site or a legal site it is a link to a file on google drive that will be downloaded when you click on it. This is the number one red flag in my book. Also the email that they are contacting you with is not a domain based email, but simply a gmail account that anyone can set up in 5 minutes time.

What Should I Do If I Get an Email Like This.
  1. DO NOT CLICK THE LINK FOR ANY REASON – just clicking on the link could put your computer and financial data at risk.
  2. Contact Higher Images Immediately – We will look into the claim on your site and determine if there is any possibility of there being an issue with your website. If we built it, we will have all licenses for all images on your site on file with the exception of customer provided content.
  3. Print out a Copy and Trash it – The sooner you get rid of the email, the less chance of you accidentally clicking on a link to the file. If your website is hosted by Higher Images, we will have a copy of all forms submitted to the website.

As you can see, scammers are becoming increasingly savvy online, this is just the latest iteration of their tactics to separate you from your hard earned money. It is important to be vigilant and to never click on a link that you do not know about. As always if you have any questions, you can contact your representative at Higher Images anytime.