Internet security is a subject that enters the collective psyche more and more these days and as some industries have shifted towards remote work, the numbers of varying threats continue to grow. From data privacy to identity theft, each has varying levels of involvement, but one of the most impacting on our day-to-day life is the practice of phishing.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is one of the most common types of online scams that we encounter in our daily lives. It involves a fake individual pretending to be from a well-known company attempting to lure a potential victim into revealing sensitive personal information such as banking numbers, credit card details, and even account credentials.
The most glaring example is that of the “Nigerian prince” - the one that wishes to do some foreign currency transaction with a large sum of money as a rewarding benefit. And while this particular type of scheme is now seen more as a common joke, it’s still successfully at frauding people for almost a million dollars a year. Yet, these types of scams can be avoided with a few simple tips to make sure you’re not part of that statistic.
How to Avoid a Phishing Scam
Verify Sender’s Email Address
One of the first steps to take when receiving an email that’s alerting to some notable request is to check the sender’s email address. Sometimes you’ll notice inconsistencies here such as sending from a non-recognizable domain. Most businesses, with the exception of a few small businesses, will use their own domain names; for example: Microsoft’s domain will read ‘@microsoft.com`.
Look for Cues
While some phishing emails may be carefully crafted, there are often visual cues that give away a potential scam. Some of these include spelling and grammatical mistakes, use of unprofessional graphics, and even the use of generic greetings instead of addressing a user’s specific name.
Careful With Personal Information
Some phishing scams may request you to send some personal or bank account information. For starters, no one should ever make you verify personal or log-in credential information over email. You should already have a portal you access for each respective account. Same goes with any type of bank information. Avoid sending even the most minimal credit card or routing number details over email.
Do Not Rush to React
Some phishing scams may heavily rely on pressure. They will make it seem like there is a limited amount of time before some critical action takes place. This can create a panic and cause you to resort to sudden reactions such as clicking unsecure links or opening malicious attachments. Pause. Take a moment to think things through before making any big movements. Revisit the previously mentioned tips and take a second look at all the details. You may even want to call any respective numbers such as your bank - just make sure to look up their contact from a reliable source such as their website or sometimes listed on the back of your credit or debit card.
Reset Your Credentials
Lastly, if you feel you’ve already been a target of a phishing attempt, make sure to go to your targeted accounts and update your password. Make sure you’re typing in the correct domain address. You can also try to call your bank and get a second look at any malicious activity.