What is Phishing?
As you already know, identity theft is an ever-growing crime not only in the US, but worldwide. That being said, it is only natural that the number of ID theft types is always on the increase. Cyber criminals constantly think of new ways to hack and steel your identity and your money.
One of these methods is called Phishing.
This is a method wherein victims are led to disclose their sensitive information (credit card details, account usernames and passwords) by following directions that they get from an ‘authentic and legitimate’ source. After this, the information is used to steel your identity and most probably money. There is an extremely large number of phishers and their emails. In fact, according to Elite Personal Finance, over 150 million phishing messages are sent every day.
It might sound too far-fetched or even naïve to you right now that someone could make such a fundamental mistake as to be deceived this way, but in fact, phishing is a very serious and dangerous crime, and the number of victims is only growing.
– How to Recognize a Phishing Attack?
There are some common features of attempts at phishing. The most pronounced are the following:
You are being contacted by a ‘credible, well-known company’.
(e.g. Facebook, Microsoft, Google, etc.)
Fraudsters generally hide under the name of these companies in order to appear credible and obtain your data more easily.
There are links in the email you received.
There will usually be hyperlinks in a phishing email message. This way, if you click and follow the link, hackers can get you to their playground to disclose your sensitive information.
Threats (and Urgency)
Usually, they will also try to urge you to do what they want by mentioning a certain risky situation that might happen to you if you don’t click the link right away and play their game.
e.g. If you fail to go to this website (link included) and change your password immediately, you will be in risk of security breach.
Bad spelling and/or grammar
It is extremely unlikely that Microsoft or Facebook would send you an email full of typos or grammatical mistakes. So, if you notice this type of errors in the email you have received, be sure that this is an attempt of phishing.
Lastly, phishing can be executed over a phone call. A fraudster might call, again, on behalf of a company, offering you to solve your computer/phone issue on condition that you share your information with them. Sounds suspicious? That’s because it is.
– How To Prevent Phishing?
Now that you are introduced to the concept and features of phishing, we can move on to a list of the most effective ways in which you can prevent this crime from happening to you.
Use filters on your Computer.
Using a spam filter on your email account will significantly decrease the number of messages that you will receive from unknown and unwanted sources.
Likewise, you can adjust your browser settings in a similar way. Thus, your Internet browser will recognize unreliable links and prevent you from following them even if you click on them.
Opening/Reading the Message
If a certain phishing message somehow deceives your email filter and appears in your inbox, try to recognize it by its sender and/or subject line. If you think that this is such a message, just don’t open it.
Even if you open the message, read its content carefully and search for all the aforementioned signs of phishing.
Report the Email
If you come across a phishing email, make sure to report it immediately to your bank and/or your identity theft protection company.
They will identify the sender of the message and make sure that they are legally prosecuted.
NEVER share your sensitive information online or on the phone
This is most probably the advice that everything else boils down to:
Whatever you do, be wise enough not to disclose your sensitive personal information with anyone who comes across as suspicious, be it on your computer or your phone.
Here you can read on some additional tips to prevent phishing.
Now you know. Phishing is a serious threat, especially in the United States, and the number of victims is constantly increasing.
However, if you get knowledge on this topic from reliable sources and then start applying everything that you have learned, you will certainly decrease the risk of becoming a victim of phishing.