It can be easy to fall victim to cunning scammers, but there are precautions you can take to lessen the likelihood of being affected by this crime. Phishing attempts are becoming more common as people rely on online banking and e-commerce. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost a total of $57 million to phishing schemes in
While both online banking and e-commerce are generally safe, you should always be careful any time you are asked to give out personal information whether it is in person, via phone or over the internet.
So, what exactly is phishing? It is a type of online scam where criminals attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details, and account numbers by using spoofed emails
. These emails commonly claim to come from social networking websites, banks, auction sites, online retailers or IT administrators.
Protect yourself with these tips.
- Don't click on suspicious links or open unexpected attachments. Following links to unsafe or fraudulent websites can lead to the intrusion of malware (harmful viruses that can grant hackers access to your personal data). If you receive an email from a sender you do not recognize, be cautious and don't download any attachments or click on links within the email.
- Never give out personal financial information. This is particularly important when the phone call, email or text message you receive is unsolicited. Ask for further identification from the sender. If you doubt the legitimacy of the call, hang up and call your financial institution or the number found on the back of your credit or debit card to verify the call.
- Never respond to an email that warns you of severe consequences if you do not validate or provide your information immediately. Scammers will attempt to create a sense of urgency to pressure you into providing the information they seek. Do not respond or click any links until you have contacted the company using a trusted phone number or email. If you do respond, contact your bank or card issuer immediately.
- Monitor credit card and bank statements regularly. Reviewing your accounts for unauthorized transactions of any amount can help ensure your financial safety. Report any discrepancies, no matter how small, to the credit card company or bank immediately.
- Look for signs of a secure transaction. Make sure the web address begins with "https." Also, look for a padlock or key icon in the top of your browser.
- Report suspicious activity. Any suspicious activity can be reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. Visit their website here.
Stay aware and keep your information safe!