Consumer Handbook: This Photo Sharing Message May Be Phishing For Your Google Password

Oct 1, 2020


Don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. A new scam appears to be an email from Google, informing you that someone has shared a photo album with you. But it’s really a phishing scheme that’s after your password. 

You get an email or text message that appears to come from Google Photo. Someone is sharing an album of photos with you. To view the photos, you just need to click the link. The message looks so real: it may use a convincing URL, which has been created by Google’s goo.gl URL shortener to appear to be an official Google domain name. The message also seems to come from the email “noreply-photos@google.com.” 

There is no photo album. It’s a phishing con. 

When you click the "View Photo" link, it will open in your web browser and prompt you to log into your Google account. If you enter your information, you are giving scammers your username and password. Con artists can now access your email account as well as any other accounts that use the same login information. 

Follow these tips to protect yourself from this and other online phishing scams:

  1. Never click on links in unsolicited messages. Phishing scams direct you to websites that look official, but these sites may be infected with malware. If you don’t know and trust the person who sent you the message, don’t click on any links. 

  2. Be careful with shortened links. Con artists often use link shorteners, such as “Bit.ly” or “Goo.gl,” to disguise scam links. Be extra cautious when following one of these links because you can’t tell where it leads. 

  3. Be wary of any message that comes from a friend but seems out of character. For example, an old work acquaintance who contacts you out of the blue. It may have originated from their account, but they could be victims, too. 

  4. Don’t fall for “urgent” scams. Scammers like to cause alarm to create urgency. You might get a message that indicates you’re in a compromising video, your password is being reset, your account is in danger of deactivation, or some other dire situation that needs immediate attention. If it seems unlikely, watch out.