By: Jennifer Adams
There are many kinds of attacks hackers can use to infiltrate your system, but one of the most deceptive tactics is phishing. Because the message hackers send appears to be from someone the victim knows, they can acquire personal details to steal their identity before the victim realizes they have been duped. Unfortunately, so many people fall victim to phishing each year that it results in $57 million stolen annually, which is why knowing how to recognize and react to it can spare you loss. Here’s how to identify, respond and report phishing should you become the target.
What is Phishing and how do I spot it?
Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent communications appearing to be from a reputable sender to acquire personal information or money. This is usually done through text messages or emails. The sender may claim to be unable to communicate in any other way besides the email or phone number they used to contact you. If an email or text is unexpected, has grammatical errors, the wording is unusually formal or contains grammatical errors, contains a link, or asks for personal information, its probably phishing. These criminals will use scare tactics to try and coerce you into divulging personal information (ex. If you do not pay this amount, your account will be closed). Trust your instincts. If something seems off, then most likely something really is wrong.
What should I do if I receive Phishing emails/texts?
If you receive an email or text that seems phishy (pun intended), do not respond to it or click any links in the email or text. It’s through these links that hackers infect devices with malware and other viruses. The best course of action is to verify the email address or call the oerson to be sure the message really is from them. Although someones name appears in your inbox, the email may be from a different email address, one created by a hacker.
Here’s what to do if you realize you’ve been phished:
Block the email address or phone number so they cannot contact you again and be on the lookout for any other suspicious messages. Depending on the information that was given out, whether it be bank, credit card, online login credentials, drivers license, or a child’s personal information, steps need to be taken to report the fraud and secure your accounts. IdentityTheft.gov has great information on what to do depending on what kind of information was phished.
Report it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at email@example.com or forward text messages to SPAM (7726).