What is phishing?
Phishing is a form online scam, usually made through email, where criminals ask individuals to provide sensitive and personal information. The emails appear to be from a legitimate, often well-known company and usually contain a link which appears to take you to their website, however it is actually a fake site and any information you provide goes straight to the scammer. Common information that these criminals are after include credit card details and account numbers or passwords.
Ways to spot a phishing attack
Generic greeting – As phishing emails are generally sent in large batches, to save time they will often address the message using a generic name or greeting so they don’t have to type out individual names. If you do not see your name on an email, be suspicious.
Sense of urgency – Online criminals want your personal information now. The faster they get what they want from you the faster they can use it and move on to their next victim. To do this, they will make you believe that something has happened that needs immediate action.
Grammatical errors – Many phishing emails will contain spelling or grammar mistakes. If you spot an error, the chances are the email has not come from that legitimate organisation.
Requesting personal information – The whole purpose of phishing emails is to gather your personal or sensitive information. Legitimate companies do not request personal information through email so if you see one, it’s highly likely that it’s a phishing attempt.
Forged link – First thing’s first, check to see that the link begins with “https” – the s means secure. If it does not, do not proceed to click on it. The link is likely to contain a name that you recognise, but that doesn’t mean it is the real organisation. Check the link carefully.
Inconsistent information – Some emails will claim you have done something, for example, exceeded the number of times you can attempt to log in. If you know that you have not done this, then the email is a scam.
How to prevent falling for a phishing scam
Use your own link – If you are unsure if an email with a link is from the company you think it is, go onto your web browser yourself and search for the company to find their legitimate page.
Install a web tool to prevent malicious sites – There are a number of tolls which can identify malicious sites for you so that you will know if a site is legitimate to not.
Here are some examples of phishing emails…
If you think you may have been a victim of a phishing attack, be sure to change all of your passwords immediately! Change passwords even on sites the attacker has not posed as, as many people use similar passwords for multiple accounts.
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