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How to Identify and Avoid Becoming a Victim of Phishing Scams

A “Phishing scam” is a form of identity theft. The scammers use fake emails, phone calls and websites to trick people into giving out their usernames and passwords, credit card details or personal information.


Most of these scams work by convincing you to click a link which takes you to a page which looks like another companies website. When you log in your details are stolen. The scammer can then use these acquired details to access your accounts, make fraudulent purchases with your money or sell your details on to others who will.


Be Suspicious of all email – It is very easy to make messages, particularly emails, look like they have come from a trusted organisation or company. Very often the scam will also come with a deadline or threat to try to force you to act quickly. This is to stop you having to think about your actions. Comments like “Your account will be terminated in the next few days unless you respond” are common. Or threats that you are about to “lose access to your account.”


Scam emails will often look suspicious. The “from” address will be long and maybe difficult to ascertain where it was sent from. The email may also contain a lot of typographical errors or often get company names incorrect.


Remember, email is not secure. You should never send personal information via email. If you see an email requesting information this is a sign it is a scam. This does not mean emails not asking for information are to be trusted.


Never Follow Links In Emails – Scammers often create websites which look like other sites you use every day. They will then send you a link to this dummy site to get you to enter your details. To be safe do not follow any links in emails. Copy and paste the link and check to see if it looks genuine. If you are unsure then treat it as suspicious and do not follow the link.


Phishing Can Also Happen Over The Phone - Trusted organisations will never ask for passwords, PINs or personal details over the phone if they phone you. You should only ever give this information out if you phone the company on a phone number you can trust. Even then you have to be careful due to call blocking scams. If you are called on a landline and told to ring your bank or another trusted organisation then use another phone line or mobile and not the one you were called on.


Trust Your Instinct – If you get any suspicion at all the email, website or phone call isn’t genuine then trust your instinct and ignore it. It is much better to ask someone else and get verification it is genuine than fall victim to a scam.


Keep Your Computer Up To Date – It is important you run the updates on your computer. These help secure your computer from known security flaws. While an up to date is no guarantee you will never be victim to a scam it does reduce the chances of certain scams affecting you.

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