Is Phishing Illegal?

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Phishing is a type of online fraud in which criminals pose as legitimate businesses or organizations to trick people into disclosing personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. Phishing attacks can happen through email, text messages, or fake websites. While phishing is not technically illegal, it is a form of cybercrime that can have serious consequences for victims. In this blog post, we will explore the realities of phishing and how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.

What is phishing?

Phishing refers to the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from a reputable company in order to induce individuals to click on a link or attachment that will install malware on their computer. Phishing is often used to steal sensitive information such as login credentials or credit card numbers.

While phishing attacks are not technically illegal, they are considered unethical and may be prosecuted under anti-cybercrime laws. For example, the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prohibits obtaining confidential information by tricking someone into revealing it.

One well-known phishing attack occurred in 2006 when criminals posing as employees of MySpace sent emails that directed users to enter their login credentials on a fake website. The attackers then used the stolen information to gain access to the victims’ MySpace accounts and send spam messages to their friends.

How does phishing work?

When phishing, criminals typically create fake websites that look identical to the login page of a legitimate website. They then send out emails or messages that appear to be from the legitimate website, tricking people into entering their login credentials on the fake site. The criminals can then use those credentials to gain access to the victim’s account on the legitimate website.

Phishing can be difficult to spot because the fake websites and messages can look very convincing. However, there are some telltale signs that you can look for, such as misspellings in the URL or suspicious looking email addresses. If you’re ever unsure about whether a website or message is real, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not enter any sensitive information.

Is phishing illegal?

Phishing is a type of online scam where criminals pose as a legitimate organization to trick people into giving them personal information. Phishing is illegal in many countries, and perpetrators can face severe penalties.

Despite the risks, phishing remains a popular method for criminals because it is relatively easy to do and can be very profitable. For example, a phisher may send out an email purporting to be from a bank or other financial institution. The email will look authentic, and it will ask the recipient to update their account information. If the person responds and provides their login credentials, the phisher can then use those credentials to access the victim’s account and steal their money.

Phishing can also be used to steal sensitive information like credit card numbers or social security numbers. This information can then be used to commit identity theft or fraud.

While phishing is illegal in many countries, it is still a problem because it is difficult to track down perpetrators and prosecute them. Additionally, many people are unaware of the risks of responding to phishing emails, which makes them more likely to fall victim to this type of scam.

What are some examples of phishing scams?

Phishing is a type of cyberattack that uses fraudulent emails or websites to trick users into providing personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. Phishing scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they can be difficult to spot.

Here are some examples of common phishing scams:

  • An email that appears to be from a trusted source, such as your bank or a company you do business with, asking you to click on a link or download an attachment in order to update your account information.
  • A fake website that looks identical to a legitimate website, such as a popular online store or social media site. The URL may be slightly different than the real site, or it may use a different top-level domain (such as .com vs .net). Users are tricked into entering their login credentials or personal information on these fake sites.
  • An email claiming there is a problem with your account or order, and asking you to click on a link or open an attachment to resolve it. This may be an invoice for something you didn’t purchase, or a notice of a suspicious activity on your account.If you receive an email or see a website that looks like it could be part of a phishing scam, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Instead, contact the company directly using a phone number or email address you know to be legitimate.

How can you protect yourself from phishing scams?

Phishing scams are becoming more and more common, as scammers become more sophisticated in their methods. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of a phishing scam:

  • Be aware of the signs of a phishing email or text message. These can include unexpected requests for personal information or login credentials, generic greetings ( instead of using your name), and links to unfamiliar websites.
  • If you receive a suspicious email or text message, do not respond to it. Instead, report it to the company it claims to be from or your local law enforcement agency.
  • Never click on links or attachments in an email or text message from someone you don’t know. These could contain malware that could infect your device with malicious software.
  • Keep your anti-virus software up to date, and run regular scans on your devices to check for any malware that may have been installed without your knowledge.


Yes, phishing is illegal under both state and federal law. Phishing is a type of identity theft that occurs when someone uses false pretenses to trick you into revealing your personal or financial information. This information is then used to commit fraud or other crimes. If you’ve been the victim of phishing, you should report it to the authorities immediately.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.