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Protecting Yourself from Phishing Scams: What You Need to Know

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Understanding Scams

Phishing is when scammers pretend to be trustworthy to steal your information. They might send fake emails, messages, or websites that look real, but are designed to steal your data.
Phishing scams trick you into revealing personal information or clicking on harmful links. This guide will help you stay safe by learning how to recognize and report phishing attempts. It will walk you through the steps to take action against phishing scams and protect your sensitive data.

How to Handle Phishing Attempts

1. Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Messages

If you get an email or message from someone you don't know, or it asks for your personal information, be cautious. Legitimate organizations usually won't ask for such info via email.

2. Double-Check the Sender's Address

Scammers often use fake email addresses that look real. Before clicking any links or sharing info, check if the sender's email address matches the official one of the company or organization they claim to be from.

As you can see in above image, sender's address is a random strings of numbers and letters. It is not a valid email address.

3. Don't Click on Suspicious Links

If you receive an email or message urging you to click a link to verify your account or share sensitive information, proceed with caution. Before clicking, hover your mouse pointer over the link to reveal the actual web address. Make sure it matches the official one.

As shown in the image below, when you hover your mouse over the link, the true web address is displayed at the bottom of the screen. A legitimate link should also display a green padlock indicating security. In contrast, if the link shows a random string of numbers and letters instead of the organization's domain, it's likely suspicious.

4. Never Share Personal Information

Legitimate organizations won't ask for sensitive information like passwords, social security numbers, or credit card details in an email. If asked, it's a red flag—don't share!

5. Report Suspicious Messages

If you suspect you've received a phishing email, take action to report it.

  • Inform your email provider about the suspicious email, or reach out to the organization that the scammer is pretending to be. Reporting these incidents helps protect others from falling into the same trap.

    To report phishing emails to your email provider, look for the "Report Phishing" button or the "Move to Spam" option. You can find these choices similar to what's shown in the image below.
  • If you've encountered a phishing scam, report it to relevant authorities. You can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at their website at www.ic3.gov/Home/FileComplaint.

6. Protect Your Accounts and Device

  • If you clicked on a suspicious link and entered your information, change your passwords immediately.
    If you use Chrome browser then enable Google Safe Browsing. It checks url automatically and keeps you away from malicious and phishy websites.
    Check out this blog how to do it howtogeek.com
  • Make sure you enable two-factor authentication for added security. You may download an app like Microsoft Authenticator or Duo Mobile to help you do this.
    Visit www.protectnow.info/resource/cybertools/ to download the software directly.
  • Install Antivirus software to keep your device safe from malware downloaded from the link you clicked.
    If need assistance in finding and download legit antivirus software, visit www.protectnow.info/resource/cybertools/.
  • Keep your operating system and software up to date.

7. Verify Email Legitimacy

If you're uncertain about the authenticity of an email, message, or website, it's essential to take steps to ensure your safety. Here's what you can do:

  • Ask Someone You Trust: Reach out to a friend, family member, or coworker and share the suspicious content. They might offer insights or suggest how to proceed.
  • Contact the Organization Directly: If the email claims to be from a company, bank, or service you use, don't hesitate to contact them using official contact information from their official website. This helps confirm if the message is legitimate or a potential scam.
  • Check for Red Flags: Scrutinize the email for signs of phishing. Look for grammatical errors, generic greetings, and unexpected attachments or links.
  • Avoid Clicking Immediately: Don't click on links or download attachments without verifying the sender's credibility.

For more information, visit FTC's guide on avoiding phishing scams

(c) 2023 PROTECT - All rights reserved.

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