Eight ways to avoid phishing scams
11 June 2018
Phishing is a form of online identity theft in which fraudsters trick Internet users into submitting personal information to illegitimate websites.
Phishing scams are usually presented in the form of spam or pop-ups and are often difficult to detect. Once the fraudsters obtain your personal information, they can use if for all types of identity theft, putting your good credit and good name at risk.
Because phishing is one of the most devious forms of identity theft, it is important to become familiar with various types of phishing scams as well as learn how to protect against them.
1. Guard against spam
Be especially cautious of emails that:
- Come from unrecognised senders
- Ask you to confirm personal or financial information over the Internet or make urgent requests for this information
- Aren’t personalised
- Try to upset you into acting quickly by threatening you with frightening information
2. Communicate personal information only via the phone or secure website
When conducting online transactions, look for a sign that the site is secure such as a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or an “https:” URL, whereby the “S” stands for secure, rather than an “http:”.
However, you should also be aware of phone phishing schemes. Do not divulge personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call. Be cautious of emails that ask you to call a phone number to update your account information as well.
3. Don’t click on links, download files or open attachments from unknown senders
It is best to only open attachments when you are expecting them and know what they contain, even if you know the sender.
4. Never email personal or financial information, even if you are close to the recipient
You never know who may gain access to your email account, or to the other person’s account to whom you are emailing.
5. Beware of links in emails that ask for personal information
Even if the email appears to come from an enterprise you do business with you should still be cautious. Phishing websites will often copy the entire look of a legitimate website, to make it appear authentic. To be safe, call the legitimate enterprise first to see if they really sent that email to you. After all, businesses should not request personal information to be sent via email.
6. Beware of pop-ups
- Never enter personal information in a pop-up screen
- Do not click on links in a pop-up screen
- Do not copy web addresses into your browser from pop-ups
- Legitimate enterprises should never ask you to submit personal information in pop-up screens, so don’t do it.
7. Protect your computer
At a minimum, ensure your computer is protected by a firewall, spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Do some research to ensure you are getting the most up-to-date software, and update them all regularly to ensure you are blocking new viruses and spyware.
8. Check online accounts and bank statements regularly
So you can ensure that no unauthorised transactions have been made.
You should always be careful about giving out personal information over the Internet. Luckily, companies have begun to employ tactics to fight against phishers, but they cannot fully protect you on your own.
Remember that you may be targeted almost anywhere online, so always keep an eye out for those “phishy” schemes and never feel pressure to give up personal information online.