Defeat Phishing Scams With These Tips
There are many forms of cybercrime, but phishing scams are among the most common. Phishing is something that happens a lot, but that does not mean it is undefeatable. One step is making sure that you have installed a rigorous level of security software, but phishing is also best dealt with when you know what phishing often actually looks like.
Just what is phishing?
Despite the spelling, phishing is pronounced the same as fishing. It is a form of identity theft that is popular among hackers, and more of them turn to it every year. Combinations of fake emails and false websites are used to steal the personal data of consumers. The most common data stolen is credit card information and passwords.
Criminals steal this information from you by sending out links to those false websites that look just like a website you already do or could trust, like financial institutions or social media. When you enter your information into these sites, they then steal your data. Other than online banking and financial sites, other sites that get spoofed regularity include MSN, eBay, PayPal, and Yahoo! Never assume an email is safe if it is not from a bank, and verify even those when you can.
Protecting yourself from phishing scams:
Be highly suspicious of emails that request personally confidential information, particularly if they are asking for financial details of any kind. A legitimate business or organization is never going to ask for something like that through an email medium. In fact, many banks will even say that they do not ask for such information unless you are the one that contacted them, rather than vice versa.
Stand your ground when pressured into giving up sensitive data. Phishing scammers love to make use of scare tactics, doing things like making threats to disable accounts or delay certain services until you update your information. Contact merchants directly so you can verify the authenticity of any request.
Much of your daily spam, which includes possibly risky phishing messages, comes to you from a site that you once registered with that sold your address to someone else. If this is something that disturbs you and you do not want it to happen, it is a good idea to think twice about signing up for any particular site.
Be wary of information requests that look generic. Fraudulent email messages are rarely individual in nature, whereas an authentic email from a bank is going to be personalized and reference the actual accounts you have active with them. “Dear Sir/Madam” is a common opening for phishing emails, and many come from financial institutions you do not do business with.
Always avoid submitting personal information in a form that is embedded in an email message. The sender is usually able to track everything that gets entered.
Don’t use links in email messages to connect to websites unless you’re positive they are the real deal. To be safer, open up a new browser window and then manually type the URL into the address bar directly. Phishing websites look disturbingly like the actuals, so analyzing the address bar is necessary to distinguish the real from the fake.
Enable your security software to block out phishing. Some security programs can automatically detect and then block fraudulent websites as well as provide authentication for mainstream financial and e-commerce websites.