Watch Out for Phishing Scams

This week, I thought I’d just send out a friendly reminder about the dangers of email phishing scams. Phishing scams usually involve getting an email from a bank, shop, or website which you recognize. They often say things like how your account information needs to be verified, and to please enter log in information to confirm. Unfortunately theses emails are not from the bank (or website etc.), they are fake. When you enter in your login information into what “looks” like your normal bank website, all you’ve done is give that information away to cyber-thieves, and now they can access your account.

Phishing scams have become more and more common lately. In 2015 there was a reported $5.8 million lost to phishing scams, however this number is likely massively understated. A lot of cyber-crime goes unreported, because people are often embarrassed to report that they have been duped. Keep in mind that many banks and credit card companies are often very willing to refund you anything that has been lost due to cyber-theft, so if you have been a victim don’t hesitate to report it.

The tricks that thieves use are becoming very sophisticated. The websites they create can look exactly the same as the regular one your bank uses. How can you protect yourself? Here are a couple things to remember to keep you safe:

  • Companies will never email you out of the blue to update your login information. The only time you should get an email related to login information is if you initiated it on the actual website. If you don’t recall resetting your password or changing any personal information, delete the email
  • If you get a strange email from what sounds like similar source (such as your bank) that has a link in it, don’t click the link without hovering over it first with your mouse. Doing so will show you what the actual address is of where the link will redirect you. For example, if the email asks you to login at www.nbcn.com, and you hover over the link and it says something else (often random numbers and letters), it’s a scam
  • When you are browsing the web and need to log into a website that has material personal information, double check the web url. If it doesn’t look right, close the browser and open the website again (either by clicking a saved link, or searching for it on google)

While it may sound like danger lurks around every corner of the internet, the reality is the vast majority of things you encounter are completely innocent. But by keeping these few tips in mind you will go a long way to avoiding the inevitable scams that pop up in our daily connected lives.

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