Did you know that you can go phishing with your email?
Yes, I spelled that right, phishing.
I don’t mean fishing by printing out your emails and then putting them on a hook and throwing it into the lake to see what sticks. I’m talking about phishing, a method where hackers try to get you to give up your personal information such as your credit card numbers, social security number or passwords to financial accounts.
Phishing schemes seem to be the popular method for hackers these days. These schemes may come in form of fraudulent websites and emails that look legitimate when they aren’t.
The emails may appear to come from the IRS or another trusted site saying if you don’t enter your account info you’ll lose x, y and z.
Although they sound legitimate, you should never enter your information, especially if it’s a pop-up window. If you are questioning wether or not an email you received is legitimate, it’s best to be cautious. Here are some other ways to avoid phishing scams.
Beware of Unknown Senders and Generic Messages
Don’t open any email you don’t know who the sender is. If you don’t know the name or domain don’t open that email.
Another warning sign is if the email is generic, saying dear sir/madame, and asking for your name, address, phone number, credit card, etc. It’s a phishing scam. Don’t enter your information. Delete it, block it and report it.
Not only will it make you think you know them, by opening it you could be opening your computer up to malicious software or viruses. If you don’t know them, block the sender and delete the message.
Federal Agencies and Banks Don’t Email You
Most federal and state agencies won’t email you or call you. If the IRS wants to get a hold of you, they will send a letter for you to call them.
The same goes for fake bank emails. Your bank won’t ever ask for personal information over email. If you think an email might be from your bank, call them first and ask.
You should never give personal information in your emails to anyone. It’s really a standard practice.
Avoid Pop-Up Screens
Don’t click on pop-up screens. Your web browser has a pop-up blocker for a reason. If you trust the website you are on, you can choose to allow the pop-ups, but if you are not familiar with the website, then it’s best to avoid pop-up screens. If they do pop-up, don’t click on it other than to close it.
Use Search Engines to Your Advantage
If you are unsure if the pop-up, email, or website you are seeing is legitimate, do a quick Internet search. There are a lot of websites that report fraud, phishing or suspicious sites, and if the site in question shows up there then delete it from your email right away. You can do the same thing with phone numbers too to see if where they are coming from and if other people have reported them as a scam.
A lot of this is common sense. Just like with other types of scams, if it looks, smells or feels suspicious don’t open or click anywhere on it!
A strong anti-virus on your computer will also help in deciding if something is suspicious. If you click on it and your anti-virus pops up saying it’s suspicious, then don’t go to the site.
Common sense is your friend on the internet so you can avoid phishing scams.
Have you ever fallen for a phishing scam? How else can these scams be avoided?
Photo courtesy of: TheDigitalWay