Phishing is a form of online fraud in which a hacker will send you an email that prompts a response that includes your personal information, like your address, phone number, or bank account info. This sensitive personal information is then used by the criminal to steal your identity and deplete your bank account. Unfortunately, phishing is one of the most prevalent online crimes. But lucky for us, phishing is also easy to protect against. Here are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe from this common email scam.
Practice Extra Caution
Phishing scams will often involve sending you an email with a link to a site that looks like it is from a site you trust, such as your online banking provider or social media sites. These sites will then turn out to be fraudulent sites that copy the real sites in appearance. If you submit personal information to these fraudulent sites, you risk identity theft. To protect against this, be wary of emails that ask for personal information. Your bank will likely never ask for your account info or social security number via email. In most cases, the only time you would provide this information is if you are the one contacting your bank.
Many phishing scams will use scare tactics in order to pressure you into giving away your personal information. You may receive an email that is seemingly from your cable provider or electricity company that threatens to disable service until you update certain information. Before acting on an email such as this, call your provider directly to confirm that the email was really from them.
Assess the Content of Your Email
Oftentimes, a phishing email is easy to spot; you just have to know what to look for. Phishing email will often sound generic, with “Sir/Madam” instead of your name. Never submit information to a form that is embedded in your email; if a company needs you to update information such as a password or address, it will send you an email asking you to login to the site yourself and update your information. A site should not send you a link in the email to direct you to their site. Be wary when clicking links in emails. Many sites send verification links when setting up an account; these are safe to click. However, if a site that you have long had an account with suddenly sends you an email with a link to the site when they have never done this before, it may be a phishing scam.
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