You know not to respond to the letter of the Nigerian government official asking for money for “handling fees” in order to secure a giant sum of money that he plans to share with you, and maybe you are leery of individuals expressing romantic interest in you over the Internet. But do you think you can spot phishing scams if you are the target?
Phishing scams include email and websites that are created to install malicious software on your computer with the intent to steal personal information from you, such as banking passwords, in order to steal your money.
Often times phishing scam emails are designed to get you to hand over your personal and important information under false pretenses, such as a fake email from your bank asking you to reset your password, or messages from popular social media websites which express security concerns to you.
Here are some tips for spotting phishing scams before you become a victim:
- Watch out for poor spelling and bad grammar as this is often an indication that the email message or website does not actually belong to the company it claims to represent.
- Be cautious of links in emails. If you feel a link might be suspicious, hold your cursor over the link without clicking on it, and see if the address of the link that appears under your cursor matches the typed link in the e.mail. Often in a phishing scam, the real link will look nothing like the company’s link that it claims to be.
- Watch out for fear tactics used in an email. For example, “Your account will be closed if you don’t…” as these are often indicators of phishing scams. Treat with great caution .exe files in links as these often spread malicious software.’
Make sure you are not a victim of phishing scams!
Never provide important information such as a bank PIN number, credit card information or a social security number if you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the email you have received, or the website you are visiting.
In addition, there should NEVER be any genuine requirement for you to enter your online banking or payment card PIN numbers, either in an e.mail or on a website. If in any doubt, immediately telephone your bank.
Public awareness is the best way to stop phishing scams. Don’t let them get past the email to you…know how to spot a phishing scam and make sure that you are not the one who gets tricked into giving your personal information. And then make sure your parents know the signs and that your children know how to spot a phishing scam. The best way we can make sure that phishing scams no longer work is to educate everyone on how to spot them. Don’t be a victim!