Nobody wishes to fall victim to a phishing scam. There’s a good reason why such scams are going to continue and that is: They are so successful that cybercriminals are making massive profits. Phishing scams have been around virtually since the beginning of the Internet. And they are not going away any time soon. Thank goodness, there are ways to get out of becoming a victim yourself.
Here are 10 Basic Guidelines that will help to keep you safer:
Keep Up To Date About Phishing Techniques
Someone is developing new phishing scams all the time. Without staying ahead of these new phishing techniques, you could unintentionally fall prey to one. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for new information about new phishing scams. By finding out about them as soon as possible, you will be at much lower risk of getting trapped by one. For IT administrators, continuing security awareness training and simulated phishing for all of their users is greatly recommended. This will aid in keeping security top of mind throughout the organization.
Be Sure To Think Before You Click!
It’s Ok to click on links when you know you are on trusted sites. If you click on links that show up in random emails and instant messages, that is not such a smart move. You should hover over links that you are suspicious of before clicking on them. Do they direct you where they are supposed to direct? A phishing email might assert that they are from a legitimate company. And when you click on the link to the website, it may actually look exactly like the real website. The email you receive may ask you to fill in your personal information, but the email may not actually contain your name. Most phishing emails will open with “Dear Customer” so you should be on the alert when you encounter one of these emails. When in doubt, you should go directly to the source rather than clicking on a link that is potentially dangerous.
You Can Install An Anti-Phishing Toolbar
Most of the currently popular Internet browsers can be customized to include anti-phishing toolbars. These toolbars will run quick checks on the websites that you are visiting and will compare them to lists of known and identified phishing websites. If you come across a malicious website, the toolbar will warn you about it. This is just one more level of protection against phishing scams, and they are completely free.
Verify A Website’s Level Of Security
It is perfectly natural to be a little wary about providing sensitive financial information online. As long as you are on a website that is secure, you shouldn’t have any problems. Before submitting any of your personal information, be sure that the website’s URL begins with “https” and there also should be a closed lock icon close to the address bar. You should check for the website’s security certificate, as well. If you receive a message that states “a certain website could contain malicious files,” do not open the website. Never download files from emails or websites that appear to be suspicious. Even some search engines might show certain links that may direct users to a phishing webpage which is offering low cost products. If the user ends up making purchases at such a website, cybercriminals will have access to the credit card details.
Regularly Check Your Online Accounts
If you don’t visit one of you online accounts for a while, someone could possibly be having a field day with it. Even if you don’t necessarily need to, you should check in with every one of your online accounts on a regular basis. Get into the habit of regularly changing your passwords, as well. To aid in preventing bank phishing and credit card phishing scams, you also should personally check your statements on a regular basis. Obtain the monthly statements for your financial accounts and carefully inspect each and every entry to ensure that no fraudulent transactions have been made without you knowing about it.
Keep Your Browser Up to Date
Security patches are released on a regular basis for all of the popular browsers. They are released in response to the security loopholes that phishers and other hackers unavoidably discover and exploit. If you usually ignore messages about updating your browsers, now is the time to stop. The moment that an update is available, download and install it.
Always Use Firewalls
High-quality firewalls were developed to act as buffers between you, your computer, and outside intruders. You should always use two different kinds of firewalls: a desktop firewall and also a network firewall. The first option is a kind of software, and the second option is a kind of hardware. When they are used together, they can drastically reduce the possibilities of hackers and phishers gaining access your computer and/or your network.
Be Suspicious of Pop-Ups
Pop-up windows often disguise themselves as legitimate components of a website. However, all too often, they are simply another form of a phishing attempt. Many popular browsers will allow you to block pop-ups. You are able to allow them on a case-by-case basis. If one happens to slip through the cracks, do not click on the “cancel” button. These buttons will often lead you to phishing websites. Instead, you should click on the small “x” in the upper corner of the window.
Don’t Ever Give Out Personal Information
As an overall rule, you shouldn’t ever share your personal or financially sensitive information over the Internet. This rule extends all the way back to the days of America Online. This was when users had to be constantly warned as a result of the success of early phishing scams. Whenever in doubt, go and visit the main website of the company that is in question. Get their phone number and give them a call to verify the authenticity of their website. Most of the phishing emails will point you to pages where they require entries for your financial or personal information. An Internet user should never make private and confidential entries through the links that are provided in the emails. Never send any an email with sensitive information. Make it a practice to closely check the address of the website. A website that is secure always starts with “https”.
Use Antivirus Software
There are many reasons to use antivirus software. They include special signatures that are included with antivirus software that will guard against known technology workarounds and loopholes. Just be sure that you keep your software up to date. New definitions are added continually because new scams are also being developed all the time. Anti-spyware and firewall settings should always be used to help prevent phishing attacks and users need to update the programs on a regular basis. Firewall protection will prevent access to malicious files by blocking those attacks. Antivirus software will scan every file that comes by way of the Internet to your computer. It will help to prevent damage and harm to your system.
If You Have Been Phished
First, you should immediately contact your bank or credit union. Don’t be afraid to make the call. Most of the folks that have been successfully scammed will feel embarrassed to admit they were “taken” and that the scammer has gotten away with their money and their ID.
If you actually gave out your credit card number or your personal information, call all three of the US credit bureaus as soon as possible. You need to make a request to have them place a fraud alert on your credit report. The three bureaus and their phone numbers are: Equifax, 1-800-325-6285; Experian, 1-888-307-3742; and TransUnion, 1-800-680-7289.
Next, you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or call them at 1-877-382-4357.
You don’t necessarily have to live in fear of phishing scams. But, if you keep the preceding guidelines and tips in mind, you should be able to enjoy a worry-free online experience.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post on How To Avoid Phishing Scams. I hope it provided needed information for the reader and was of some assistance. Please leave Comments or Questions below. Also, if you know of a Scam that needs to be exposed, please leave the information below and I will be glad to investigate. Take care.