Happy Safer Internet Day 2015! Who knew there was such a thing?! Apparently there is…and it’s been around for 11 years! In the spirit of helping out, we thought we'd give you a few tips to spot phishing and avoid your personal information being hacked.
What is phishing, you ask?
Have you ever received an email that looked like it was from your bank and was asking you for your personal information like user name, address or credit card number? Did something click in your head to say, this looks fishy? Phishing is the attempt to gain your personal information by impersonating a trustworthy institution via email.
Unfortunately these scammers have gotten better and better at masquerading over time. It often can be difficult to tell the difference between a real email from your bank and a phishing email. Well, we want to make it just a bit easier... here are a few tricks you can test to be sure:
Trick #1 - It's not really a trick, it's a rule. Your bank will NEVER ask for your private information via email. If you get an email like that. Trash it.
Trick #2 - Check the email address. Often it's not from firstname.lastname@example.org it's from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. Looking at the name of who the email comes from isn't enough. It's easy to mask the address by choosing a name like "Bank of America" the same way our email comes up as Bite Size Learning but our address is email@example.com - you want to look at the actual email address.
Trick #3 - Depending on your browser, hover over or right click on the link they've send. DO NOT REGULAR LEFT CLICK. By right clicking you can see what the actual web address is that they're sending you to instead of just the text. To do that, choose the option “Copy Link Address” then paste it into your browser (but don't go to it) or into a new email so you can see where it's taking you. Try it here: Bite Size Learning vs Bite Size Learning ...the first link is taking you to Bite Size Learning's home page, the second link is bringing you to YouTube. If you don't recognize the site where the link is taking you....DO NOT CLICK.
Trick #4 - Highlight the most unique line of text you see in the email. Copy it. Then open a new tab or window in your browser and paste that text into the search bar. Often you're not the first person to receive that particular piece of phishing email and the internet is full of good people who post these emails as a warning to others. If it comes up in a search it will likely be on a site that is pointing out phishing or malware emails. Trash that email.
Trick #5 - If you're still not sure if the email is legit, open another window or tab in your browser and go directly to the site the email is claiming to come from. Type in www.chase.com or google it. Usually if a site is requesting information you'll get the same message when you log into your account. You can update your information there safely.
It's important to note that most email applications have filters so as to avoid you receiving these emails, but they're not perfect and many can slip through the cracks. By using these tricks you should be able to avoid most phishing attacks.