11 Practical Tips to Identify and Prevent Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are among the most common cyber threats. Learn fifteen practical tips to identify and prevent phishing scams today.

If not, we have come up with the top 11 ways to identify phishing scams and to protect your information. Keep reading below to see how to prevent phishing with our top 11 tips. 

What Is a Phishing Scam?

phishing scam is when thieves try to trick you into providing them with your personal information such as usernames, passwords, and finical information. These thieves will use emails or text messages that appear to look official and authentic to trick you into providing them with information.

They can try to mimic the appearances of banks, credit cards, eBay, PayPal, and other finical institutions. They will try to lure you through their fake URLs that appear to look like the website they are posing as. From here you will be asked to log into your account and upon doing so the scammers will retrieve your password and username, opening up doors for them to take your personal information and finances. 

To help you prevent phishing we will be outlining a few tips to help you identify them. This will come in handy so you can protect yourself and your information by knowing what to look for in a phishing scam.  

1. Think Twice Before Clicking

If you receive an email from your bank or an online payment system such as PayPal you should listen to your gut. If something seems off about the email or it doesn’t look like previous ones you’ve received from the outlet, then don’t click on any links.

One of the most popular emails scammers send out are the ones stating there has been a sign in to your account and you are required to reset your password. After clicking on the link they provide in the email, you will enter in your previous information to ‘reset’ your account. Phishers will use this information to log into the actual account and steal your assets.

If you haven’t tried to log in or feel as if you should reset your password, open your browser and navigate to the website yourself. When you’re on the official website you will be able to securely reset your information.

Another precaution you can take is to hover over any links that appear in your email. By doing so the website URL will appear and from this information, you should be able to decipher if the website is legit or a scam. 

2. Analyze the Email

Everyone has been told for years not to open emails or links within emails from people they don’t know or unfamiliar with. But with today’s technology and new scams, thieves make emails out to look professional and authentic from the institution or company they are trying to mimic. 

If you’re unsure if you can trust the email, try looking for some tell-tale signs. The first thing you should do is look at the sender. If it’s from a legit company the email address won’t have any numbers or weird formatting. 

If you notice any numbers in the email’s domain or the email address as a whole then there’s a good chance it’s from a scammer. You can reach out to the company directly to inform them of the scam, but you should immediately block the sender and not click on anything in the email. 

3. Stay Up To Date On Phishing Techniques

One of the best ways to avoid a phishing scam is to stay up to date on what scams are currently going around. This may seem like an impossible task since new phishing scams are being created daily, but it’s not as hard as you may think.

The best way to stay informed on phishing scams is to look up news frequently on them. Some local news broadcasters will even have spotlights on phishing scams that are happening in your local community. National news may even highlight what scams are popular in the nation and make you aware.

The best way to educate yourself on phishing scams is to do your own research online and see what well-known news outlets are saying. You can easily find news on phishing scams everyone should be on the lookout for with just a few clicks.

The benefit of doing your own research and staying on top of the latest scams means that you will be better protected since you know what to look out for. Another benefit is that you can educate those in your office building or friends about the potential scams to also help protect them. 

4. Get Help From An Anti-Phishing Toolbar

If you aren’t that confident in your detective skills, there are many applications that can help you to become more aware and flag any suspicious emails or correspondence. The application we suggest you use is an anti-phishing toolbar.

You can install an anti-phishing toolbar onto any browser. This application will run a quick check on websites that you’re visiting and even check emails through your provider’s web browser interface.

When the application checks your website or emails it will compare it to sites and correspondences that have been flagged for phishing scams. If the toolbar finds a match it will inform you through a notification in your browser or pop up. 

The nice thing about phishing toolbars is that they help to add another layer of protection to your browsing and email. It will also give you the added peace of mind knowing everything is being double-checked and not slipping through the cracks. Lastly, these toolbars are free and are pretty powerful applications that everyone should have installed. 

5. Ensure the Website Is Secure

If you’re about to input any finical information on a website such as your bank account number or even credit card information, you should check to make sure the website is secure before inputting any information. This may seem like a tedious and complicated task, but in reality, it will only take you a few seconds to verify if a website is secure or not. 

Before putting in any information on any website you visit you should make sure the URL begins with ‘https’. The second thing you want to check for is the little closed lock that should appear in the address bar of your web browser. These two things mean that a website is secure and your information will be protected.

If you’re still wary about the website’s security you can also check for the site’s security certificate. This should be found on their ‘about me’ page or at the bottom of the webpage in the footer.

Your browser should also provide you with some warnings when loading a page on an unsecured site. If you get a message from your browser that states there are malicious files then don’t open the webpage. You should also avoid downloading any files from these sites because they could have hidden software that will collect your passwords and usernames saved to your computer or browser.

6. Invest In Anti-Virus Software

If you have very valuable information on your computer such as finical information for your business or credit card information form customers, you should be open to the option of investing in anti-virus software. Even though anti-virus software can be pricey, it helps to ensure safety from viruses and phishing scams.

Anti-virus software is powerful and will help to ensure you’re protected from anything untrustworthy sites, emails, or files have to throw at you. Just remember to keep your software updated for the best protection

7. Never Give Out Personal Information

This is a general rule of the internet, but people sometimes forget it. Never, under any circumstances, give out your personal information over the internet. 

If you receive an email from a ‘friend’ asking for personal information it’s better to give them a call then to send it through an email or online chat room. When you send information over the internet it can be easily retrieved by thieves, especially if your connection isn’t secure. 

If your bank emails you requesting personal information you should also give them a call. Usually, finical institutions will not email you asking to provide them with personal information through that channel. If this happens, you’re most likely the target of a phishing scam. 

8. Be Cautious of Pop-Ups

Phishing scams aren’t limited to emails. They can appear in many forms and one of their popular forms are pop-ups.

Pop-ups are made to look like serious websites, including authentic components of the site they are trying to mimic. Usually, any pop-up you encounter is a phishing attempt, and they are targeting you.

To safeguard yourself against these particular phishing attempts you should have a pop-up blocker installed on your browser. Pop-up blockers are free and allow for an added layer of security to your web browsing. 

If you encounter a pop-up that slips through your blocker’s cracks you should never click on any buttons that appear within the window. Clicking buttons that are within the pop-up will provide the thief with a bridge to your computer or even install a virus. Always click the X on the top left of the window to close the pop-up and to protect your computer and your personal information. 

9. Keep Your Browser Updated

If you’re using a browser that hasn’t been updated in some time, then we can guarantee that you aren’t fully protected. Security patches are always being released for browsers. These updates and patches are created and released in response to loopholes that scammers and phishers seem to get through.

Your browser will inform you when it’s time to update. You should never ignore these and take the few seconds it takes to update your browser for optimal protection. 

10. Check Accounts Regularly

If there’s an account (especially a finical one) that you haven’t logged into in a while, there is a possibility that a scammer is having a field day with it. You should get into the habit of checking your accounts on a regular basis, such as once a month or week.

Checking your accounts on the regular will provide an added layer of security since you will be checking for any suspicious activity. The second you notice something is wrong you can flag it right away. This means the hacker won’t get far and your assets will be protected.

11. Use Firewalls

Firewalls are implemented for a reason, and this reason is to add a barrier between you, your computer, and outsiders. There are two different kinds of firewalls you should have active on your device: a desktop firewall and a network firewall. 

A desktop firewall is a type of software that can be installed on your computer for an added layer of security. A network firewall is a type of hardware that should come with your device. Using both of these together will help to stop hackers and thieves from getting your personal information. 

Now You Know How To Prevent Phishing Attacks

We have told you the top 11 ways to prevent phishing attacks on your device. From installing free software and applications to knowing what to look for in a suspicious email or website. You now have the tools to identify a phishing scam so your information and device can be protected at all times. 

For more technology tips and tricks be sure to check out our Better Your Business series

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