Phishing is exactly what it sounds like: an attempt by fraudsters to catch your sensitive information. Their hooks come in the forms of fraudulent emails, websites, pop-ups, phone calls, and even faxes or texts. They’ve used both threats and offers as bait, and the big prizes they are casting their nets for include passwords, bank and credit card information, social security numbers and other sensitive information used to commit fraud and other crimes.
As technology advances, scammers have become more sophisticated, too. An email can appear to have been sent by someone you know because their name appears in the “from” box, but a quick check of the actual sender’s email could reveal that it’s not from a known email at all.
Did you know that if you hover your mouse (don’t click!) over a link in an email or webpage, it will display the actual web address the link is sending you to? This is a great way to make sure that link in that email or notification you received isn’t going to send you to send you to a spoof site or download malicious software onto your machine. This works for email attachments too!
Another good habit to get into is to check the address in the address bar before entering any passwords or other sensitive information. Many web browsers have built in safeguards to verify that a site has the proper certificates and that sites that are supposed to be secure are, but you should always check there is nothing out of the ordinary showing up before or well after the web address.
Below are some tips to keep your information safe
- Be suspicious of emails or other notifications with “too good to be true” offers, discounts, or giveaways. The same goes for ones that contain threats, such as permanently blocking your account if you fail to respond. Thieves often use these to trick you into downloading viruses and other malware or to direct you to a fraudulent site where they can gather your sensitive information and/or infect your computer.
- Do not open or download attachments from people you don’t know. If you receive an email or notification from someone you do know that contains an unexpected attachment or link, it would be smart to reach out to the person via a new email (don’t just reply to the suspicious email) or phone call to verify it was intended and the person’s account wasn’t compromised.
- Be suspicious of emails with poor grammar or spelling or odd spacing within the text. The same applies to emails that look to be from senders you know that contain wording that sounds wrong.
More tips and information can be found at the links below:
Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently
Watch Out for This Frighteningly Effective Gmail Scam
Consumer Information Guide on Phishing
Facebook Guide on Phishing and Spam