Tips to Avoid Falling for a Phishing Scam

Whether you are a long-time user or new to technology, you can be vulnerable to a phishing scam. There are all sorts of scams and nefarious activities on the internet, so sometimes it can be tricky figuring out what is real and what isn’t.

What is a Phishing Scam?

Phishing is when someone attempts to get personal and private information from you by pretending to represent a trustworthy organization or person online. They will phish for credit card information, passwords, usernames and other useful data.

Phishing scams used to exclusively happen through email, often mimicking the look of a message from a trusted source, such as an online retailer or bank. Today, this is also happening via text messaging.

If these messages are designed to be disguised as legitimate, how do you sort the facts from fiction? Don’t let the cybercriminals win!

Here are 5 ways to avoid falling for a phishing scam:

  1. Educate yourself – Cybercriminals are constantly changing their techniques. Once old tricks stop fooling people, they move on to new methods. Your best defense is to pay attention to news on the subject. Once your know what the current scam is that’s going around, you’ll be less likely to fall victim to it. News organizations will often report on widespread scams, so stay informed.
  2. Pause before proceeding – At first glance, an email or text might look legitimate. However, upon closer inspection, it might seem a little off. Ask yourself a few basic questions. Has this company or organization ever emailed you before asking for information? Look at the email address or phone number that the message is coming from? Does it look official? Is the spelling off? Are the logos odd looking? Before clicking any links or putting in any passwords or usernames, you need to check the whole thing over.
  3. Check the security – When you’re on a secure site, a little padlock logo should appear in your address bar. When you hover over the link is there a https at the beginning? If you do get as far as clicking on the link and your browser gives you a warning – well, that’s generally a sign to close it.
  4. Check all of your private accounts regularly – Check your online banking and credit card accounts regularly, as well as other online payment accounts, such as PayPal. Make sure you update and change passwords to more difficult sequences.
  5. Update your browser and OS – Browser updates aren’t for nothing. It’s not just to add new features. Quite often new security patches are added to updates, so don’t delay.

Make sure you mark all phishing emails and texts as spam or as a scam. This can help your email provider learn more about what to look for when it comes to scam emails. You can also block the sender to prevent more.

Learn more

Last month was Cyber Security Month, so be sure to check out our last blog about how to protect your devices.

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