Understanding Phishing Attacks: How to Spot and Avoid Them

Phishing is a type of online scam where bad actors pose as legitimate sources to gain access to your funds or confidential information. While modern email and messaging clients make it difficult for these scams to succeed against many people, some still fall prey to their elaborate tactics.

Whether you’re proficient with technology or partial to using analog devices, it’s possible for you to become a victim of phishing. To help you fend off these widespread attacks, here is how you can spot and avoid phishing attempts.

They Email You From Generic or Suspicious Domains

There is no doubt that understanding phishing is the first step to combating it. One of the best ways to accomplish this step is by detecting the domain of emails that pose as legitimate entities. For instance, if someone is claiming to represent Amazon but sending their email from a Gmail address, you can be certain they’re not a legitimate source.

By looking at the sender details for emails, you can easily check this information and make sure to steer clear of these harmful attempts.

They Text You From Unknown Numbers

Phishing also happens through texts, where bad actors can assume the identity of postal services and voter registration programs, among many other entities. To ensure you aren’t being duped, you can check the sender’s phone number. If it doesn’t represent the entity they’re claiming to be from, you have a scammer at hand. If you’ve had such an interaction in the past, you can also use a comprehensive identity theft protection service to determine if someone stole your information.

They Send You “Account On Hold” Messages

In addition to the common signs of sending emails and texts from generic sources, phishing emails can also be identified through their scare tactics. One technique is their use of account status notifications, where they tell you your account on popular platforms such as Walmart is on hold.

While using a secure email service can help you protect your data, clicking on the links from such senders can compromise your information. This calls for you to be careful about this division of the phishing epidemic.

They Tell You Your Payment Details Are Outdated

If you ever receive an email stating that your payment details with a provider such as PayPal have become outdated, you can clearly identify the fear that they instill in you. But more often than not, such emails are nothing more than a blatant attempt to extort funds or information out of you. Even if you secure your funds with a mobile banking app, these messages can be quite manipulative in their language.

To protect yourself against such attacks, it is important that you directly contact your financial services provider instead of responding to these messages.

They Act Like They Are Trying to Contact Someone Else

Remember the emails where some random person ended up in your inbox and started a friendly conversation by accident? Phishing emails put their own spin on this tactic. In these types of phishing attempts, malicious actors address someone else in the email who has supposedly won some sort of competition. This can tempt you into clicking links or giving away private information.

To safeguard yourself against such instances, you can use phishing protection best practices such as email security and authentication systems.

They Offer You Coupons or Discounts Out of Nowhere

Many phishing attempts might act like you are the exact person they wanted to reach, and for good reason too: They come bearing news of coupons or discounts just for you! If that sounds tempting to you, you are better off using a cashback program than clicking on one of these emails. This can prevent you from compromising your information in exchange for a potential few bucks.

As always, make sure that you also check the sender’s source and domain name. In almost all cases, this is enough for you to spot these problems.

With these practices, you can protect yourself against harmful phishing attacks. This ensures that you can protect your finances as well as your personal information online.