How to Recognize Phishing Scams

Phishing is a type of cybercrime where scammers pose as trustworthy sources to obtain sensitive information or data from you. 

Phishers operate on a variety of platforms. But what is the ultimate purpose, regardless of the approach used by scammers? They seek your personal information to access your bank accounts and credit cards. They’ll also send out a slew of bogus emails and SMS messages worldwide in the hopes of duping enough people into giving up their personal information.

Keep reading to learn more about phishing scams so that you can avoid them.

Phishing Scam Indicators

Scammers have become more clever when it comes to sending out phishing emails. However, there are some indicators you can watch out for to avoid cyber attacks.

Offers That Are Too Good to Be True

Phishing emails may entice you with what appear to be super low-cost offers on expensive items such as smartphones or vacations. These are almost certainly phishing emails.

Request for Your Account Details

Your bank or any other financial organization will never request your Social Security number, bank account number, or PIN through email.

Grammatical and Spelling Errors

There was a time when phishing emails were easy to recognize because they were riddled with spelling and grammar errors. Scammers have gotten better at avoiding these mistakes, but it could be phishing if you receive an email with many typos and strange language.

Standard Greeting

It’s possible that phishing emails aren’t directed to you individually. Instead, a generic greeting such as “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear Account Holder” could begin the email.

Getting Messages from Unknown People

Consider deleting an email if you don’t recognize the sender. If you decide to read it, avoid clicking on links or downloading files.

Hyperlinks

If you receive an email asking you to click on an unexpected URL, hovering your mouse over the option may reveal that the connection leads to a phony, misspelled site. This URL has been designed to appear genuine; however, it is most likely a phishing scam.

Attachments

The sender provided attachments that don’t make sense or appear spammy.

How You Can Guard Yourself Against Phishing Scams

Even though hackers are constantly developing new phishing schemes, there is some good news. You can take a few things to safeguard yourself and your company. All it takes is a bit of common sense.

Do Not Open Emails That Appear to Be Suspicious

If you get an email that seems to be from a financial institution but has a scary subject line like “Account suspended!” or “Funds on hold,” delete it. Log in to your account or call the bank directly if you are concerned about a problem. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be able to see if there’s an issue with your bank account or credit card.

Do Not Click on Links in Emails That Appear to Be Suspicious

If you receive an email from someone you don’t know instructing you to click on a link, do not do so. These links will frequently redirect you to bogus websites that will ask you to supply personal information or click on links that may install malware on your machine.

Avoid Clicking on Pop-Up Advertisements

Hackers can insert deceptive messages into even the most legitimate websites. Often, the pop-ups will inform you that your computer is infected and direct you to call a phone number or install antivirus software.

Make Use of Spam Filters

Spam filters can assist stop emails from shady sources, but if phishing emails get past your spam filter, you should always exercise your best judgment.

Enroll in Antivirus Protection

Make sure you have multi-layered security software installed on your computer.

What Is the Best Way to Report Phishing?

If you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam, report it to the appropriate authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant page allows you to register a phishing attempt or offense. You can also write the phishing email to reportphising@apwg.org or submit it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group. If you get a phishing SMS message, report it to SPAM immediately (7726).

The Bottom Line

It’s vital to have robust security software guiding your defense as thieves continue to develop their phishing attacks and other approaches. Take measures and use your best judgment when browsing online and responding to communications to avoid an online attack.

Authors

  • Elizabeth Howard is a seasoned writer who loves to write on topics related to Business, Finance, Marketing & Energy Markets. Well known for her eloquence, Liz is a full time contributor to a dozen top notch publishing portals.