Protect yourself from phishing

Protect yourself from phishing

Here’s how to protect yourself from phishing scams

You have probably already heard the story. It might have already happened to someone you know. One day, life is perfectly normal and the next it has been turned upside down because an identity has been stolen.

Somebody has bought a car in their name, run up credit card debts, or even emptied their bank account. How did this happen?

The short answer is that they were the victim of a phishing scam online, and through an innocuous action of their own, they permitted their information to be stolen and their life to be hijacked.

The good news… it hasn’t happened to you… yet.

There is one sure-fire method to preventing it.

What is phishing

Phishing is a form of what internet security professionals call social engineering. It is concerted effort by an individual or organization to collect information for malicious purposes.

They create legitimate looking emails designed to trick people into visiting fake websites where their usernames and passwords can be stolen, or install malicious software on your compute which is also designed to steal your usernames and passwords.

A great deal of your most personal financial information is secured only to the extent that you have personal knowledge of the information required to access it, and phishing scams are a direct attempt to attain that information.

Passwords, pin numbers, and social security numbers are common targets, but something as simple as your mother’s maiden name or your date of birth may be of value to those engaged in fraud.

One of the most common phishing schemes today involve email, and you probably have some attempts in your inbox right now.

How to spot a phishing email

There are many ways that you can determine that an email is not genuine and may be a phishing attempt.

The most obvious indication is that you were not expecting it.

It may be an urgent alert, even a fraud alert, from a bank where you do not have an account, or even a bank where you do have an account. It may profess to be a shipping update from FedEx or UPS for a package you aren’t expecting.

It may have minimal information about why it is contacting you but has a file attachment it is asking you to download. Perhaps it says that you won a lottery that you never bought a ticket for.

While many of these fraudulent emails will be caught by your spam filter, but some will inevitably get through to your inbox.

Email links are not your friend

Phishing scams are bets that scammers are making, and they depend on what action you take next.

They prey upon curiosity, inattention, and even greed.

Clicking on links within the email can take you to web pages that look legitimate and ask for your personal information in the same way that it would be requested on a secured website.

The best way to prevent this is to avoid these links and go directly to the website in question through a search engine to find out if they are really trying to communicate with you.

If you have even the slightest doubt when it comes to an email, never click on any link within the message or download any file associated with it.