If you have internet access, you need to know about phishing scams and how to avoid them. By simply understanding how they work, what they can do, and what steps to take, you can prevent data and identity theft.
What is Phishing?
Pronounced like “fishing”, phishing is when you get an email, message, or popup from a source that seems or claims to be legitimate but their purpose is to scam you into giving your private information. They use this information for credit card fraud and identity theft.
Research suggests that more than 150 million phishing emails are sent every day, with approximately 16 million passing through spam filters.
How Phishing Works
Usually, you’ll get an email that looks legitimate. It will have a nice design, a logo from a company that you recognize, and a link to a website. Most likely, that website will also look very real and authentic, and it will have a login screen where you will be asked to either enter or “update” your information. This website is not what it seems, and in reality is a scam to trick you into feeling secure and surrendering your information.
Prevent Phishing with These Tips
Phishing is scary and the techniques are becoming more sophisticated as people realize how to avoid them.
Below are a few precautions you can take to protect your information and identity:
Use Anti-Phishing Software
A lot of antivirus programs have anti-phishing features that help protect you from scams. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the following additional precautions, but good antivirus software should always provide the foundation of your online security efforts.
Look More Closely at the Email
Whenever you get an email from company, especially if there is a link to a website to buy, log in, or update information, you should always stop and look at the email. Let’s say you get an email that looks like it’s from PayPal. The logo and design seem right, but what about the sender’s email. If the email is actually “@paypal.com”, it is most likely safe. But sometimes you’ll see that it’s a random email that has nothing to do with PayPal. That is how a phishing scam begins.
Don’t Click on the Link
Just to be on the safe side, even if it does seem like the real deal, visit the website by typing the address in your browser and not by clicking the link in the email. That way you can be sure that you are where you’re supposed to be.
Look at the Address Bar
If you do click the link in the email, look at the URL in the address bar. Is it really the website’s address, or is it just something really close? If it isn’t exactly like the website’s real address, close it immediately and don’t click anything or enter any information.
Never Enter Information via a Direct Link
Even if everything seems right, the email is correct and the URL is correct, never enter your personal information on a page you reached through a direct link. Log into your account after you entered the URL manually in your browser and edit or add your information then, not from a link in an email.
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