How to Avoid Phishing Scams

How to Avoid Phishing Scams

Humans are a clever species. We’re ever evolving—for better or for worse. As our society becomes increasingly more media literate, people with ill intentions create more complex and convoluted approaches to deceive others.

Phishing scams are exceedingly prevalent and anyone online is a target and is susceptible to the threat they pose to our online security and personal privacy. 

Here are some essential strategies on how to avoid phishing scams:

1. Check, Check, and Check Again

The first step to avoid phishing scams is to verify the sender. Do you recognize their name or phone number or email address? Double check the numbers or spelling and pay careful attention to the spelling of their name. For example, “Caitlin” vs “Caitlyn” or the extra tricky difference between an “m” and “rn”, which is almost indistinguishable at first glance. In the body of the text, watch for grammatical errors 

2. Links and Attachments

Until you verify the sender is someone you know personally and trust, never click any links embedded within the email. With senders you do know, hover your mouse over the link to reveal the destination of the URL. Only click if the URL matches the sender’s website. Similarly, avoid phishing scams by paying close attention to attachments and never download anything from someone unknown.

3. Additional and Unsolicited Requests

If you have an agreed upon transaction, stick to the plan. A last minute or extra ask to switch something up can be a red flag. If you’re accepting cash for an online sale, don’t click a paypal link sent to you instead. Often phishing scams also create a sense of urgency (think: selling to someone who is moving out of town the next day or a request to verify your information before it expires). And, sadly, you probably didn’t win an unexpected prize that needs claming. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it likely is.

4. Stay Up-To-Date

Another tip when considering how to avoid phishing scams is to ensure your operating systems, software, and web browsers are installed with the most current versions and stay on top of updates by enabling automatic updates whenever possible. Most devices include security patches within system updates to help fortify against the latest security threats you may be at risk of encountering.

5. Use Secure Connections

Using a Hushed online number can help protect you against phishing scams by offering an extra layer of security against unsolicited calls or texts. By sharing your Hushed number only with trusted contacts (family and close friends whom you know personally), you can ensure that any unknown numbers are truly unknown and not to be responded to. 

Most importantly, stay educated about the latest phishing scams. Keeping aware and understanding how the work is the first step to avoiding falling victim. Remember that a phishing message can appear in your email, via text, or in a private message on social media. Stay informed and stay skeptical. Be vigilant about unsolicited communications and always, always think twice before sharing any sensitive or personal information online.