Phishing is an attempt by scammers to get sensitive personal information from unsuspecting users by disguising themselves as trustworthy businesses, organizations or individuals. Scammers use this information to steal people’s identities or trick them into installing malicious software onto their computers or phones.
Phishing attacks are one of the most common online scams. They can be carried out through emails, text messages, phone solicitations, fraudulent social media accounts or websites.
The best way to protect yourself from an attack is to be aware and vigilant.
How to protect yourself
- Respond to unsolicited text messages or emails, click on links, download files or open attachments from an unverified source.
- Give personal information over the phone or through text or email and or enter personal information in a pop-up screen.
- Be cautious with all communications you receive, even those that appear to be from a trusted source. Phishers may use real company logos to make their communications seem legitimate.
- Look for common signs of phishing like poor spelling or grammar, the use of threats, or a URL that does not match that of the legitimate website.
- Install, update and use anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer or devices, as well as phishing filters on your email and web browser to help reduce the number of phishing attempts.
- Review financial account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges and check your credit reports regularly.
- Contact organizations or institutions in response to unsolicited text messages or e-mails using their name.
- Change your passwords, check your computer or devices for viruses, and notify credit reporting agencies, your bank and other companies that you have accounts with, if you provided personal information to unknown or unverified sources.