Phishing scams often begin with a fraudulent email or call that appears as though it comes from a trustworthy company. Sometimes the goal is to gain credit card or banking information. Other scams may attempt to install dangerous malware onto your computer. Regardless of the purpose, phishing scams are wide-spread and some are incredibly believable. However, you can take several easy steps to identify and protect yourself from phishing scams.
Types of Phishing Scams
Phishing scams appear as if they come from a trustworthy source, so it can be difficult to identify them. Knowing what kinds of phishing scams are most common can prepare you to better spot them. These include:
Email Scams: One of the most common phishing scams is a fraudulent email that seems to originate from a reliable company or person. It attempts to gather personal or financial information from the recipient. They often include links to fake sites or have official-looking attachments. These are among the most famous forms of phishing scams.
Vishing: Also known as VoIP or voice phishing, vishing involves using a phone or another form of voice communication. It is a scam that aims to trick or obtain personal information from recipients. Most vishing scams pretend to be groups like government agencies or the police.
Tech Support: This phishing scam involves cold calling many people and claiming to find malware on their computers. Scammers then ask the recipient to install software that is either malware or that gives the scammer access to the recipient’s computer. They may also demand a fee to “fix” the nonexistent issue.
Pop-Up Warnings: These are small graphics or ads that pop up when browsing the internet. Often, they pretend to discover malware on your computer and link to a malicious website or deploys malware on your device. Pop-ups often look as though they come from a trustworthy source, such as antivirus companies.
Recognizing a Phishing Scam
You have a few methods at your disposal to identify possible phishing scams. Thankfully, most phishing scams have some telltale signs.
One of the first things you should do is look at the source, such as its URL or email address. Major companies usually use their own email services and would be sending messages through their official domain. This means that if you receive an email that looks like it’s from your bank, but the email is from a generic Gmail account, it’s probably a phishing scam.
Additionally, many phishing scams appear too good to be true. You should be cautious of messages exclaiming that you’ve won a grand prize or tons of money. The same goes for anything that claims to be a miracle product.
Finally, go over everything with a fine-tooth comb. Most phishing scams contain typos along with spelling and grammar issues. Often, this is because they originate from places where English is a second language. Phishing scams also often use generic greetings such as “Hello customer.” If you have an account with the business, they usually use your name in the greeting.
Even incredibly tech-savvy people fall for phishing scams. Over the years, phishing scams have become incredibly believable and complex. This is why it’s necessary to have some additional protection.
- Think Before You Click: Remain vigilant when browsing the internet. Don’t open emails from questionable sources and don’t click on pop-ups.
- Use 2FA: Two-factor authentication, also known as 2FA, is the second level of security beyond your password. Usually, this is a passcode you receive via text or via an app.
- Practice Password Management: By practicing safe password management, you can limit your vulnerability should someone gain access to some of your information. A few rules of thumb: Never use the same password for more than one account, change your passwords every six months to a year, and use password management apps like KeePass, 1Password, and LastPass to encrypt and store your passwords. Tip: They can also generate custom passwords for you with the click of a button.
- Use Protective Software: Don’t browse the internet without an antivirus, such as Windows Defender, Avira, Kaspersky, or Norton 360. Additionally, secure browsers like OneLaunch can block dangerous pop-ups and will warn you when a site is potentially harmful or illegitimate.
Phishing scams are incredibly common and aim to lure in people by pretending to be from a trustworthy group. Thankfully, there are ways to ward off scammers, such as better password management, improving user knowledge, and powerful security software. Alongside a secure browser like OneLaunch, which uses Chromium’s robust security features to block dangerous sites and pop-ups, these measures can protect you from almost any phishing attempt.