Imagine one fine day you wake up to find some unknown entity using your credit card from somewhere across the continent. No authority can help you as it is intercontinental cybercrime so you are left to helpless watching the thieves steal your hard earned money. Most identity thefts are done to steal your financial data. Cybercriminals steal your online identity through sophisticated phishing attacks. Identity thieves, scammers, and fraudsters trick Internet users into submitting personal information to illegitimate websites.
Phishing scams are usually operate in the form of spam or pop-ups and are often difficult to detect. Once the fraudsters steal your personal information, they can use it 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 for you to become familiar with various types of phishing scams as well as to learn how to guard against them.
8 Ways To Avoid Phishing Scams
To help you protect yourself from phishing, we offer the following tips:
1. Guard against spam. Be especially cautious of emails that:
* Come from unrecognized senders.
* Ask you to confirm personal or financial information over the Internet and/or make urgent requests for this information.
* Aren’t personalized.
* Try to upset you into acting quickly by threatening you with frightening information.
2. Communicate personal and financial information only via phone or secure websites. 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:” HTTPs websites cut down the risk of hackers poaching your financial and personal data in transit.
While giving information is fine but also, beware of phone phishing schemes. Do not divulge your financial or 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. Do not click on spurious links, download files or open attachments in emails from unknown senders. It is best to open attachments only when you are expecting them and know what they contain, even if you know the sender. It can do you a world of good if you confirm over the phone about the attachment with the sender.
4. Never email personal or financial information, even if you are close to the recipient. An identity theft can even take place on the recipient’s computer/smartphone divulging your financial and personal data.
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. Hackers employ sophisticated technology to clone the entire look of a legitimate website and make you assured of its safety. It is a best practice to hover your mouse over the links such websites have to see if they are legitimate. Also, to be safe, call the legitimate enterprise first to see if they really sent that email to you.
6. Beware of pop-ups and follow these tips:
* 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 with 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 that you are blocking from new viruses and spyware.
8. Check your online accounts and bank statements regularly to ensure that no unauthorized transactions have been made. Make it a habit to check your credit card and bank statements every week for anomalies.
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 their own.
Remember that you may be targeted almost anywhere on Earth so make a habit to be news aware. Especially cyber security news about phishing, scams, data breaches etc. Keep an eye out for those “phishing” schemes and never feel pressure to give up personal information online.