Did you know that October is Cyber Security Awareness Month? We should be diligent on keeping our information secure at all times, but it‘s nice to have reminders about what to watch out for.
Today we‘re going to talk about phishing attacks, phishing as in “ph”. This is when a scammer tries to steal information or get money by tricking you into giving it to them. It can happen in a variety of ways, such as by mail, text messages, DMs, phone, or email. No matter what method the scammer uses, there are some common red flags that you should watch out for.
Is it urgent? Did you get a call that you owe the IRS money and need to pay it immediately to avoid fines? Or how about a text message to act now to enter a gift card drawing? The phisher wants you to think you have to act quickly instead of slowing down and asking yourself if this is a real request.
Are there spelling or grammatical errors? Legitimate marketing messages or government notices are typically proofread and don‘t have noticeable errors. If a letter says “Play your fees” instead of “Pay your fees”, there‘s a good chance that it‘s a phishing attempt.
Where are the hyperlinks going? Here‘s a rule to live by – NEVER click on a link in an email or text. Hover your cursor over the link and a popup will show where it‘s actually going. Or if you‘re on your phone, long press the link to copy it and paste in a browser window. That will let you review the URL before actually going to it.
Who was the sender? No matter how you got the message, check out who sent it.
Does it look like it came from a trusted source, but with a different spelling? Or it is supposed to be from someone in your contacts, but your phone doesn‘t show that person‘s name as the sender? When this happens, the message probably didn‘t come from who it says it did.
These are just a few red flags to watch out for to make sure that you don‘t unknowingly give out your personal information or send money to a scammer.
I‘ll leave you with a bonus tip – calling to verify a request is great, but make sure you‘re using your own contact list or searching online for the company‘s number instead of using the contact information from the potential phishing attempt.
Thanks for watching and stay on the lookout for those phishing nets!