A phishing scam is one that criminals use to trick you into providing them with your personal information, such as login credentials, account numbers, social security number, or billing information to use for their personal gain.
Once they obtain that information, they can then gain access to your email account, banking information, and other accounts. As savvy as you think you may be, phishing scams are becoming increasingly tricky to spot. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, $30 million in losses were reported within only one year [^1].
How can I spot a phishing scam?
Emails and text messages that contain phishing attempts are disguised to look like they’re from a company or person who you know and trust, such as a bank, credit card company, social networking website, or online account. A phishing attempt usually begins with a story intended to trick you into clicking on a link or opening a malicious attachment. They may:
- Offer a coupon for free products
- Say that you’re eligible to register for a tax credit or government assistance program
- Ask you to confirm your account information
- Claim that there was a problem with your payment information
- Say that they noticed suspicious activity or log-in attempts
Criminals continuously change their methods, but there are a number of red flags that you can watch out for that might indicate that an email or text message is actually an attempt at a phishing scam:
- The email appears to be from a company you know and trust, but the sender’s email address doesn’t match the company name itself.
- The email doesn’t address you by name. A company you do business with will have your name on file and address you by that name.
- The email contains misspelled words or bad grammar.
- The email asks you to click on a link to update account information, but brings you to a website that doesn’t match that of the company you do business with.
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How can I protect myself from phishing scams?
While many email programs offer spam filters that may prevent some phishing emails from reaching your inbox, criminals are always trying new techniques to outsmart spam filters and their next unsuspecting victim. Because of this, it is more important than ever to add extra layers of protection.
- Install Browser Protection designed to stop scams before they reach your device. Guardio works directly in your browser to identify and block malicious websites and extensions before criminals have the opportunity to try and trick you.
- Do not put off operating system or software updates. From the moment an update is released, criminals can identify which security flaws have been fixed, which leaves any device that hasn’t been updated open to attacks.
- Use multi-factor authentication when available. Websites that offer multi-factor authentication offer extra security by making it harder for criminals to access your online accounts even if they have your login credentials.
If you have any questions about phishing and online threats, feel free to talk to us, it’s one of our favorite topics. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org