How Do I Safeguard Myself From Phishing?
Each year, thousands of people around the world have their identity, private information, or money stolen by scammers or hackers. But one of the most common ways that people are targeted isn’t high-tech at all. All it takes is some convincing lies and a target who doesn’t ask a lot of questions before volunteering their sensitive information. The process of tricking people out of their information by posing as bill collectors, government agencies, or even family members is called “phishing.”
What is Phishing?
The definition of phishing (fish’ing) (n.) Also known as “Spoofing” and “Pharming”:
The act of sending an email, phone call or text message in an attempt to get the recipient to visit a fraudulent website or call center and enter sensitive personal information. To fool the recipient by mimicking a legitimate business. Any information collected by the phisher is then used to steal the recipient’s money or identity.
Don’t Fall for Phishing
Learn how to spot tricks from phishing scammers. These tips will better prepare you to avoid scams:
- Generic Greeting. Phishing emails are usually sent in large batches. To save time, Internet criminals use generic names like “First Generic Bank Customer” so they don’t have to type all recipients’ names out and send emails one-by-one. If you don’t see your name, be suspicious.
- Forged Link. Even if a link has a name you recognize somewhere in it, it doesn’t mean it links to the real organization. Roll your mouse over the link and see if it matches what appears in the email. If there is a discrepancy, don’t click on the link. Also, websites where it is safe to enter personal information begin with “https” — the “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see “https” do not proceed.
- Requests Personal Information. The point of sending phishing email is to trick you into providing your personal information. If you receive an email requesting your personal information, it is probably a phishing attempt.
- Sense of Urgency. Internet criminals want you to provide your personal information now. They do this by making you think something has happened that requires you to act fast. The faster they get your information, the faster they can move on to another victim.
What to do if you are being Phished?
If you receive a fake phone call, take down the caller’s information and report it to your local authorities. In the United States, use the FTC Complaint Assistant form.
If you receive a fake email, delete it immediately. Be sure to empty your trash so that you don’t accidentally open the link later.
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