How to Identify and Avoid Phishing Scams?

Phishing scams are a major threat in the online world with consequences suffered in the real world. The scams occur through various channels. You may receive an e-mail offering millions of dollars, a call threatening with legal action, a text message with an amazing offer, or a direct message on social media from a secret admirer. All of these have one thing in common, they are too good or too bad (in case of the legal action) to be true.

It is about time that we stop pointing fingers at others when something bad happens and start taking responsibility for our own security (virtual and real both). For our virtual security, we can start with having a secure internet connection in the first place.

Windstream internet is worth mentioning here as it offers a complete security suite with its internet packages to keep the users safe from malware and viruses. So you can trust it with your online security.

Having a secure internet connection isn’t enough you need to take certain measures to keep yourself safe from dangerous online threats like phishing scams. This article will educate you on how you can identify different types of phishing scams and what steps you can take to avoid them.

Here is a list of the most fundamental steps to follow to avoid all sorts of such phishing scams:

Avoid Phishing through Emails

  1. Always check the details of the email to ensure the actual email address of the person sending it. If it is an address you do not recognize then delete it right away.
  2. It is highly recommended that you never click any links sent in such emails. Hover your mouse on a link to check the complete web address and in case of any doubt, forego clicking.
  3. No legit company or individual would send out an email without proofreading it. After all, it is their first impression. So if the email has multiple spelling and grammatical errors it should go straight to the trash.
  4. Never open any images or links in an email if you do not recognize the sender. They may be a fatal virus or malware in disguise.
  5. All popular email hosts like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. provide you the option to set up spam filters. Use the filter to block such emails from entering your inbox. Problem solved!
  6. Report any email that you suspect is a phishing email to the relevant authority.

Avoid Phishing through Phone Calls

  1. Caller ID and Voicemail are two features that all providers offer. Use it! Check the caller ID when the phone rings. If it’s an unknown number let it go to voicemail. Scammers will never leave a message so you can know it was not someone you need to speak to anyway.
  2. Whenever someone calls you claiming to represent a company or government department, get all the details and tell them you will call back. Always callback on the official number you find in the directory or their official website.
  3. Government departments will always send everything in writing so if someone denies you the right to written information then there is definitely something fishy.
  4. Simplest of all, hang up if you are not comfortable talking to a stranger.

Avoid Phishing through Text Messages

  1. Search the number online to see whom it belongs to. However, these days scammers have started creating fake numbers too.
  2. If the message demands immediate action or claims you have won something you didn’t sign up for then it’s phishing.
  3. Request your phone service provider to block any text messages sent from an internet messaging service. These messages are usually spam.
  4. If you receive a message from your bank, for example, call them on their toll-free number written on the back of your debit card or on your bank statement to enquire about the problem.

Avoid Phishing through Social Media

  1. All personal information like your driver’s license, address, etc. should stay as the name suggests….Personal!
  2. Online surveys to find out your mental age, spirit animal, and celebrity twin are all cool and fun but do you really know what the catch behind them is? Since you do not know where the information is going, it’s best to avoid giving out anything that you may use as a password or security question at some point.
  3. It is not paranoia if you are suspicious of random people contacting you claiming to be someone you know or that they are in love with you. If a face or name does not ring any bells then leave them be.
  4. If you receive a message from a family member or friend asking you to verify personal information then call them up to confirm.
  5. There are many fake social media websites out there, so be very careful where you enter your username and password. Entering the URL manually instead of clicking links sent in emails is a good idea.

Wrapping up

The purpose of this post is not to terrify you but to educate you on how to tackle the situation in case you encounter any scammer online. Digital security is not a joke at all, it can cost you peace of mind, money, and in severe cases, your life too. No matter how big or small importance your data holds you should take care of it and avoid scammers and fraudsters at all costs. So beware and stay safe online.

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