How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams
How Can You Avoid Phishing Scams?
Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending e-mails or text messages claiming to be from reputable companies in order to persuade individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Scammers use e-mail or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information, trying to steal your passwords, credit card account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could gain access to your accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day—and they are OFTEN successful!
The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that $57 million was lost to phishing schemes in one year. Scammers often update their tactics, but there are some signs that will help you recognize a phishing e-mail or text message.
How to Recognize Phishing Scams
First, phishing e-mails and text messages may look like they are from a company you know or trust. They may look like they are from a bank, a credit card company, a social networking site, an online payment website, or an app or online store. Phishing e-mails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
- Say they have noticed some “suspicious activity or log-in attempts”
- Claim there is a problem with your account or your payment information
- Say you “must confirm some personal information”
- Include a fake invoice
- Want you to click on a link to make a payment
- Say you are “eligible to register for a government refund”
- Offer a coupon for free stuff
What are the Signs of a Scam?
- The e-mail says your account is “on hold because of a billing problem.“
- The e-mail has a generic greeting, “Hi Dear.” (If you have an account with the business, it probably would not use a generic greeting like this).
- The e-mail invites you to click on a link to “update your payment details.”
Your e-mail spam filters may keep many phishing e-mails out of your inbox, BUT scammers are always trying to outsmart the spam filters. So, it is a good idea to add extra layers of protection.
Four Steps You Can Take Today
- Protect your computer by using security software. Set the software to update automatically so it can deal with any new security threats.
- Protect your mobile phone by setting software to update automatically. These updates could give you critical protection against security threats.
- Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication. Some accounts offer extra security by requiring two or more credentials to log in to your account.
- Protect your data by backing it up. You can copy your computer files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. Be sure to check with your IT department and designated Security Officer before copying data to other locations.
What to Do If You Suspect a Phishing Attack?
If you get an e-mail or a text message that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment, first answer this question: Do I have an account with the company or know the person that contacted me?
- If the answer is “No,” it could be a phishing scam
- If the answer is “Yes,” contact the company directly using a phone number or website you know is real, NOT the information in the e-mail. Attachments and links can install harmful malware.
- If you think a scammer has your information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, go to IdentityTheft.gov. There you will see the specific steps to take based on the information that you lost.
- If you think you clicked on a link or opened an attachment that downloaded harmful software, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan.
- Finally, contact your Security Officer and IT Staff Immediately.
What Can I Do to Ensure This Doesn’t Happen?
One of EZClaim’s partners, Live Compliance, will make checking off your compliance requirements extremely simple. They have a service that is:
- Completely online, our role-based courses make training easy for remote or in-office employees.
- Contact-free, accurate Security Risk Assessments are conducted remotely. All devices are thoroughly analyzed regardless of location. Conducting an accurate and thorough Security Risk Assessment is not only required but is a useful tool to expose potential vulnerabilities.
- Built directly into your portal, easily monitor where your workforce may be vulnerable with our Dark Web Breach Searches. Easily expose breach sources with ongoing searching of active employee email or domain ensuring continued awareness of potential breach exposure. Weekly automatic e-mail notifications if new breaches are discovered.
- Informational, and has short, informative, privacy awareness videos covering technical, administrative, and physical safeguards with topics such as Ransomware, Phishing, the Dark Web, Password Protection, etc. Delivered monthly with no logins required, empower your workforce to make conscious decisions when it comes to your organization’s privacy and security.
So, don’t risk your company’s future and avoid phishing scams especially when Life Compliance is offering a FREE Organization Assessment to help determine your company’s status. Call them at 980.999.1585, e-mail them at Jim@LiveCompliance.com, or visit LiveCompliance.com. For more specific information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support. Combined, they help improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit EZClaim’s website, e-mail them, or call them today at 877.650.0904.
[ Article contributed by Jim Johnson of Live Compliance | Photo Credit: Shutterstock ]