How to Protect Yourself from Phishing

If you have an email, chances are you receive junk mail on a regular basis. Our inboxes are constantly spammed with emails trying to sell us things. Email is also a common tool used by scammers in phishing attempts.

 

What’s phishing?

Phishing is a tactic scammers use to trick victims into sharing personal information, like passwords, account numbers or Social Security numbers. These scammers pretend to be a familiar company or other trustworthy organization to gain access to your email, social media or bank account by enticing you to click a malicious link or attachment in an email.  

 

Signs of a phishing scams

While it can be difficult to spot some phishing attempts, luckily, many contain clues they could be scams. Be wary of:

  • Emails asking you to click links or download files. Links are used to collect your information and files often have malware and spyware embedded in them to gather your information or harm your computer.
  • Generic greetings. Watch for messages that begin with “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Hello Dear”. Reputable companies often use your name in greetings instead of these generic messages.
  • Demands from companies you’ve never had an account with. For example, if you don’t have an account with Netflix, you shouldn’t be receiving emails saying there’s an issue with your payment.
  • Misspelled words or broken English. Many scammers don’t use English as their first language, so often the translation to English can appear broken or contain misspellings or grammatical errors.

 

Phishing attempts can be easily avoided if you know what to look for. Keep these helpful tips in mind when you’re on the internet.

Check that emails are really from who you think it’s from. Inspect the sender’s address if you get an email you weren’t expecting. Spammers try to create look-alike email addresses hoping you don’t look too close, and often emails will be off by a letter or two from reputable addresses.

Verify information using phone numbers and websites you trust. If you get an email that tells you to call a phone number, verify its legitimacy by looking up and visiting the company’s website.

Keep your software up to date. Hackers and scammers take advantage of people with outdated security software. Check your security software settings to ensure it receives automatic updates.

 

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of phishing, change your online passwords. Remember to choose passwords that aren’t easy to guess, and once you change them to never share them with anyone else. The sooner you can stop phishing in its tracks, the better.