If you've ever received an urgent call or text from an unknown phone number requesting your personal banking information, chances are it came from a scammer engaging in the practice of phishing. According
to the Federal Trade Commission, "Phishing scammers lure their targets into a false sense of security by spoofing the familiar, trusted logos of established, legitimate companies." These scammers will state that your accounts will be frozen, you'll fail to get a tax refund, your boss will be angry with you, or even that you will be arrested if you do not give them the information they want. Phishing happens every day, but there are steps you can take to protect your personal information and finances.
How can I protect myself and my business from phishing?
- Be cautious about opening attachments or clicking links in emails. Nobody is completely immune to a phishing attack, so be cautious of links sent even from friends and family. Files and links can contain malware that can weaken your computer's security and steal your information.
- Do your own typing. Instead of clicking on links, use your favorite search engine to learn about the phone number or website before you engage with it.
- Make the call if you're not sure. Do not respond to any emails asking for personal or financial information, since these are tactics phishers use to prey on the fear they cause the recipient. If you believe someone does truly need this personal information from you, pick up the phone and give them a call using a trusted phone number.
- Turn on two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication can save your accounts from hacking if you take the time to turn it on. Two-factor authentication requires a password and another piece of information that could be a code sent to your phone, or a random number generated by an app or a token. This is an extra layer of security that will help keep your finances safe.
- Report phishing emails and texts. Emails can be forwarded to email@example.com, and to the organization impersonated in the phishing scam. You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov/complaint.To learn more about phishing and its relation to identity theft, you can visit Identitytheft.gov. Additionally, you can also report phishing emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, an organization whose focus is global cybercrime.