Phishing attacks are one of the most common ways cyber attackers can steal your personal information. A phishing attack can occur via an email or a website. Such attempts can generate from sites, services, and companies that you don’t have an account with, while others can appear to come from companies or sites that you use on a daily basis.
These fraudulent emails or websites attempt to “phish” your personal information, such as credit card or account numbers, your social security number, and your passwords by clicking a link where you would enter such information. Here are some tips to help you spot a phishing attempt:
- Notice the greeting. Most phishing attempts use generic terms such as “United Bank Customer” or “Attention.” If you don’t see your name in the email, be suspicious.
- Pay attention to the wording in the email. Phishing attempts use phrases such as “immediately” or “right now” to add a sense of urgency so you take action without thinking the action through.
- Examine the links. Hover over links in an email to determine if the website they are directing you to is the correct site. Additionally, never visit a site that is not an “https” (“s” stands for secure).
- Watch out for mistakes. Many phishing emails originate in countries where English is not the first language, so odd punctuation, spelling errors, and strange sentence structures are a red flag.
You should NEVER provide your account number, credit card information, or social security number to a financial institution or any other company. Legitimate organizations will never require your personal information. You should report all phishing attempts to authorities as well as the company the attacker is attempting to represent.
Can you spot a phishing attempt? Test your phishing knowledge with this quiz from OpenDNS.
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