What is Phishing?
One of the most common and most prolific online scams that almost everyone has been prey to is something called ‘phishing”. Phishing is when someone impersonates a business and tries to trick you into sending personal information over the phone or internet. Oftentimes it looks like a bank or business that you commonly use but if you look more closely, you can usually spot that it’s a fake message.
There are many clues and tips that can help you spot a “phishing” scam. Microsoft Safety & Security Center says these are some of the most common;
Spelling and bad grammar. Cybercriminals are not known for their grammar and spelling. Professional companies or organizations usually have a staff of copy editors that will not allow a mass email like this to go out to its users. If you notice mistakes in an email, it might be a scam.
Beware of links in email. If you see a link in a suspicious email message, don’t click on it. Rest your mouse (but don’t click) on the link to see if the address matches the link that was typed in the message. If there is a string of cryptic numbers that looks nothing like the company’s web address, do not click on it or open it up.
Have you ever received a threat that your account would be closed if you didn’t respond to an email message? The email message shown above is an example of the same trick. Cybercriminals often use threats that your security has been compromised
According to OnGuardOnline.gov you can take steps to avoid a phishing attack.
- Use trusted security software and set it to update automatically. In addition, use these computer security practices.
- Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information.
- Only provide personal or financial information through an organization’s website if you typed in the web address yourself and you see signals that the site is secure, like a URL that begins https (the “s” stands for secure). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
- Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call to confirm your billing address and account balances.
- Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other malware that can weaken your computer’s security.