How to Identify and Avoid Phishing Scams
Emails and text messages are used to foster communication between different people. Most people do not think beyond that. This is what scammers count on. Scammers usually use email and text messages to trick people into providing them with personal information. They use psychology to get you to do all the work for them as opposed to hacking your account like was the case in the past. They then use this information to steal money from them.
“Brits are losing millions of pounds a year to phishing attacks – There were almost 70,000 reports of phishing phone calls and nearly 18,000 related to phishing text messages”. – Microsoft
The information that scammers get from these tricks and mind games are passwords, account numbers as well as other types of important details. Scammers do this by phishing attacks on different people daily. The sad thing is that most of these attacks are often successful.
How to identify phishing scams
Below are some characteristics that you should look out for;
- These emails and text messages usually look like they are from a company that you know and have faith in. Sometimes they look like they are from a bank company, a credit or online paying website among other trustworthy companies. The scammers go as far as using logos and headers from the companies that they are starting to mimic.
- The emails and text messages are often presented in such a way that they tell a story whose primary intention is to trick you into clicking on a link. Sometimes the story tricks you into opening an attachment. For instance, the email may be presented in a way that it is coming from your network provider, notifying you that they have noticed some illegal activity, and they want to protect you. Some will trick you into thinking that there is a problem with your account or other vital information. The aim is to trick you into panicking and doing what they want.
- The emails will usually list a long list of problems to get too spooked so that you do not think twice about clicking the link or the attachment provided.
- The email also usually features a generic greeting like “Hi dear.” This is not an element that legitimate companies typically use. The emails are generally not personalized because the scammers send the same email to many people. Therefore, they will not refer to you using your name. Instead, they use terms like “dear valued customer.”
- The main characteristics are that they always demand an urgent response on your end.
These emails will, in a million ways, look like they are legitimate, and this makes it difficult for you to identify phishing scams. However, they are just a rouse to get you to click on a link which they will use to steal valuable information from you.
Avoiding Phishing Scams
Get help from an information security company that can resolve issues that deal directly with Phishing Scams.
Below are some tips that will help you avoid falling victim to phishing scams;
- Avoid responding to emails with the characteristics mentioned above.
- Note that legit companies will not ask for personal information because they already have your data. Therefore, do not, for any reason, provide personal information without verifying who you are giving it to.
- Do not click on links that are sent to you via email, chats, or messages. Instead, visit the official website and communicate with the company through their help page. If the information in the email is real, the company should sort it out. Do not, at any point, use the emailed links.
- Be wary of companies that use insecure connections. Real company websites only use links like (https://), which make sure all your sensitive data is protected.
- Use a firewall or an antivirus to keep such emails from reaching your inbox.
These scam emails or texts will present you with a link that you have to click. Suppose you click on the link the first thing you need to do is check the URL of the link. Most of the time, the links will lead you to a website that is almost a duplicate of the official company’s detail, logos, and information. By checking the URL, you should be able to tell if the website is legit. Scammers will try to make the URL similar to the original one as possible, but there will always be something that is a miss. For example, instead of mywebsite.com, the Scammers website will be mywebsit.com (notice that one letter is missing).
Once you realise that the email or website is a scam, make sure to report it to the necessary authority. The point is to help other people that may not be as lucky as you when it comes to avoiding such issues.