“Phishing” is when you receive a suspicious email telling you that you’ve won a contest or that the company needs to verify personal information. Links in the email can put a virus on your computer to hunt for your sensitive data.
How to Avoid This Scam:
They are almost impossible to avoid and, although it’s vital to have virus protection software on your computer, the best protection is a good sense of judgment. Legitimate companies and government agencies are not going to ask you to confirm your personal information in this way. If it’s a company you already deal with and you aren’t sure if it’s real, don’t click on the link. Instead, go to the company website by typing in their URL yourself, and then log into your account and make sure everything is OK.
What to Do if You Receive a Phishing Email:
- Do NOT click on any links or attachments.
- Be wary of any urgent instructions to take specified action such as "Click on the link or your account will be closed."
- Delete the email from your computer completely (be sure to empty your "trash can" or "recycling bin," as well).
- If you did click on a link, run anti-virus software's full system scan.
How to Spot a Phishing Email
- You can spot a fake email by hovering over the links and checking whether the URL leads to the business's website or, in a scam email, to a third party site. Below is a screen shot of a scam email that supposively comes from Verizon. However, hovering over a link reveals its real destination.
- Read the email carefully for signs that it may be fake (for example, misspellings, grammar, generic greetings such as "Dear member" instead of a name, etc.).
- If you are not certain whether the email is legitimate, contact the business directly.