Prevention is better than cure! We have all heard the phrase several times throughout our lives in a medical context. However, if you think about it, it is equally applicable to internet phishing too. The best defense is to be aware of what can happen over the internet and prevent yourself from falling prey. You just moved to a new city, invested time in setting up everything from scratch. You did your research on everything from the best bank in town to which internet providers will offer the most dependable connectivity. Your neighbor suggested Spectrum, you called the Spectrum customer service number to get everything set up.
You were pleasantly surprised to know about the free security suite that comes along, to protect you and your data from potential threats, malware, and viruses. However, one issue is beyond the security suite’s domain that is phishing. And it is up to you how you keep yourself aware and save yourself from losing sensitive information like your account details and fall victim to something disastrous. So let us go ahead and find out what exactly phishing is and how to avoid becoming prey.
An Overview of Phishing
Scammers send you fake emails, text messages, or phone calls asking for your personal information like your Social Security number, bank details, etc. They use this information to steal money from you or hack into your computer to contact others pretending to be you and then steal some more from them and the wheel just keeps turning. There are several kinds of phishing scams going on these days. Let’s discuss each one briefly for you to have an idea.
1. Email Phishing
These are the most common scams going around and I’m sure everyone has come across at least one such email in their life. Phishing emails usually come from suspicious senders that you do not know and would have several recipients. A telltale sign of a phishing email is that it’s usually sent outside of normal business hours. These emails will encourage you to share your personal information by responding to the email or by clicking a fake link in the email.
2. Social Media Phishing
Everyone with an internet connection has some sort of social media presence too. It may be a Facebook account or a Tinder account, scammers are out for a hunt everywhere. They would pose either as a friend or as an admirer to extract information from you or simply scan through whatever you post on these platforms.
3. Text Message Phishing
As a nation, we just love to shop and God helps us if there is a discount we just go crazy. Scammers have realized this too and try to cash on this. They would pretend to be a Sales Representative of a company and try to sell you fake services or goods, requiring you to enter your personal information to make the purchase.
4. Phone Call Phishing
This is relatively less common than the above three methods but equally dangerous. Scammers will usually pretend to be calling from a government department, acting very aggressively. They will usually tell you that you’re defaulting on a payment that could have legal consequences and that you need to provide your Social Security number, address and bank details immediately.
Avoid Phishing Scams
You must never share your personal information with anyone that you don’t trust, let alone a stranger. Yes, it sounds obvious and we all think we’re too smart for this. However, it is indeed smart people like us who fall prey to such scams without a clue about what’s going on.
It doesn’t matter which method a scammer uses, if you pay attention you can always tell. Here are a few ways to help you stay safe.
- If it finds and sounds too good to be true, it is. Let’s be real here, nobody and I repeat nobody is going to give you a huge amount of money just because your name matches some dead person’s name. And there’s always a catch behind extremely discounted or free stuff.
- If your account needs verification it should only be done over your bank’s official website or toll-free number. Never reply to text messages asking for such information because they’re looking to steal it.
- You wouldn’t share your personal information with a stranger, but don’t share it with friends and even family over an email, text message or direct message. It could be someone pretending to be them. If your spouse needs your information they can call you up.
- No government department is going to call you out of the blue and require urgent action without sending prior notices. So don’t be scared by threats of legal action over the phone. Enquire about the department and call their designated number or better yet visit them.
- Never make a payment to someone you’ve never met. Unless it’s to an authentic source that you’ve checked out in the real world don’t make any money transfers.
With our busy lifestyles, it is easy to lose attention. However, you wouldn’t want a psychopath knowing your complete address, would you?