Don’t reply to pop-up, text or email messages that request your personal information. Don’t click on any links inside them as well even if the message you received appears to be from a business you trust. It’s not.
Legit businesses will not ask you to send your personal information using insecure methods. Worried? Here are some ways to prevent phishing attacks, but first let’s look at the types of messages you can receive.
Types Of Phishing Messages
“We believe an unauthorized transaction has occurred on your account. To make sure your account has not been compromised, please click on the link below to confirm your identity.”
“During our routine account verification, your information could not be verified. Please click the link provided to verify and update your information.”
“Our records show that we overcharged your account. In order to receive your refund, you need to call us within 7 days.”
Scammers are “phishing” for your personal information so they can steal it and commit fraud.
How To Handle Phishing Scams
Delete text and email messages that want you to verify or give out personal information (bank account and credit card numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers etc.). Legit businesses do not request this information from you by text or email.
The messages might seem to be from businesses you deal with such as banks. They may threaten to cancel your account or take some other action if you do not answer them.
Never reply, click links or call telephone numbers given in a message. These messages send you to bogus websites that appear real, but whose sole purpose is to swipe your personal information so a crook can jack up your bills or perpetrate crimes with your name.
Also, area codes can be misleading. Some crooks request you dial a phone number to bring your account up to date or obtain a “refund.” However, a local area code does not ensure that the caller is in fact local.
If you are worried about your account or have to contact a company you deal with, dial the number on the back of your credit card or on your financial statements.
Steps To Avoid Phishing Attacks
Here are some steps you can take to prevent phishing attacks:
- Use reputable computer security software and set it up to automatically update. Also, use the following computer safety practices:
- NEVER email financial or personal information. Email isn’t a secure means of sending personal information.
- Only give financial or personal information via an establishment’s website if you keyed in the web address by yourself and you can make sure the site is securely protected such as a URL that starts with https (the “s” means secure). Sadly, no sign is infallible; some scammers even have fake security icons.
- Examine your bank account and credit card statements as soon as you get them to look for unauthorized charges. If your statement hasn’t arrived within a few days of its expected arrival time call to verify your account balances and billing address.
- Be wary of downloading files or opening attachments in emails no matter who has sent them. These files may include viruses or malware that may decrease the security of your computer.
Check out the following video:
Reporting Phishing Emails
Forward any phishing emails you receive to email@example.com and also to the organization, bank or company that has been impersonated.
Your report is more useful if it contains the entire email header, but nearly all email programs conceal this information. To ascertain how you can include it, simply key in the name of your email supplier with the words “full email header” into your preferred search engine.
Moreover, you may send any phising emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. The APWG or Anti-Phishing Working Group, which includes law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, security vendors and ISPs, uses your report to combat phishing.
If you believe you have been deceived by a phishing email, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) here.
Have you ever been a victim of a phishing attack? Please share your story by leaving your comments below.
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