There was a time when you could rely on the sound of most words to mean one thing. Now, the internet age is making demands on language as well as our grey matter as we attempt to keep pace with its demands.
Take, for example, the recent Companies House alert warning company owners that emails sent from firstname.lastname@example.org asserting that a company complaint has been received are, wait for it, a “phishing” exercise.
Companies House say:
We’re aware that some customers have received suspicious emails about company complaints. These emails are not from us.
If you receive any emails from this sender, forward them to email@example.com as soon as possible. Do not open any attachments.
If you receive a suspicious email, you should report it to us immediately. Do not disclose any personal information or open any attachments. Companies House will never ask for your authorisation code.
Gone are the days, it would seem, when communications from the authorities were treated with a certain amount of reverence. Can you imagine returning a letter from HMRC on the basis that you did not believe it came from them?
Companies House joins the ever-growing list of organisations who are hijacked by nefarious individuals. These phishers want your personal information, ideally, they want your money. Representing themselves as “the authorities” is no doubt intended to send that chill, that opening-the-brown-envelope moment that we all dread. Cap in hand we are moved to find out why we have received their communication; emails appear to be replacing the printed letter and we do need to be wary.
We must acknowledge that phishing is a reality, and one that we cannot afford to ignore. Fishing is side-lined, the label attached to those who are drawn to catch fish, not misappropriate your identity or hard-earned savings.