Steps to Prevent Phishing

Remember we aren’t talking about hooks but it could be a sinker

Understand What Phishing Is

Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, or personal details by pretending to be a trustworthy entity. Most email phishing attempts look like they are coming from a trusted source, your bank, a social media platform, or even a friend or family member. They will normally have subject lines that contain stressor words like “Urgent,” “Act Now,” “Fraudulent Activity,” or “Your Account is on Hold.” These false subject lines are meant to cause you to panic and immediately act upon whatever the email is about. Text messaging phishing scams will typically come from an unknown number and they will either have messaging similar to the “Urgent” or “Act Now” emails, but they can also be very generic messages “How’s your day going?”, “Do you want to meet for dinner”, or something similar to get you to respond. If you do not recognize a number that a text message is sent from, it is important to not respond unless you are certain it is someone you were expecting a message from. Do not click on any links in the text or give any information to the person who texted you. The following tips will help you recognize possible phishing scams.

Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Emails or Text Messages

Phishing often begins with unsolicited emails or messages. If you receive an unexpected email from a bank, social media site, or any other organization asking for sensitive information, be cautious. Do not click on any links or download attachments in such emails.

Verify Sender Information

Check the sender’s email address and name carefully. Cybercriminals often use email addresses that look similar to legitimate ones by may have minor misspellings or alterations. The best way to check the sender’s information is to check their email, on a computer, and hover your mouse over the sender’s email address to see if the information after the @ symbol is the correct information from the sender. If it does not match with the domain, it is likely a phishing email.

Don’t Click on Suspicious Links

Hover your mouse over links in emails or messages to preview the URL. The URL preview will typically appear near your mouse or the bottom left corner of the screen depending on your browser and operating system. If the URL looks strange or unrelated to the supposed sender, do not click on it. Instead, manually type the official website address into your browser.

Look for HTTPS:

Before entering any personal or financial information on a website, ensure that the website’s URL starts with “https://” and has a padlock icon in the address bar. This indicates a secure connection.

Beware of Urgent Requests:

Phishing emails often create a sense of urgency, pressuring you to act quickly. Take your time to assess the situation and verify the legitimacy of the request.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Whenever possible, enable MFA on your accounts. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to provide additional verification, like a one-time code sent to your mobile device or accessed via an app on your phone, in addition to your password.

Stay Informed & Educated

Keep yourself updated about the latest phishing techniques and scams. Cybercriminals continuously adapt their tactics, so staying informed is essential. Share your knowledge about phishing with friends and family. Encourage them to follow these preventive measures as well.

Report Phishing Attempts

If you receive a phishing email, report it to the relevant authorities and the organization the email claims to be from. Most legitimate organizations have dedicated channels for reporting phishing.

Regularly Update Passwords

Change your passwords regularly and use strong, unique passwords for each online account. Consider using a trusted password manager to generate and store complex passwords. By following these basic steps and maintaining a healthy skepticism online, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks. Remember that staying vigilant and cautious is your best defense against these threats.

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