Top 5 Tips for Avoiding Phishing & Smishing

by Carter Toni

Ever since the first days of the internet, phishing scams have been around. Everyone remembers the Nigerian prince scam, which was an early precursor to the highly well-planned phishing scams of the day. Once text messages became part of regular communications, smishing scams also instantly took off. In both these cases, scammers try to get personal or financial information out of you to use for their own purposes or try to get you to send them money with heartrending appeals.

The best way to avoid such scams is to only communicate with credible sources. For example, when asked for payment details for your Cox Cable connection, only enter them on official websites. Do not send them to random email addresses or text them. There are also a number of other precautions you can take to avoid phishing and smishing. Here are a few of them.

Be Suspicious of Emails from Unknown Sources

The first warning sign of a phishing scam is an unknown email source. If someone is claiming to be a representative from a famous company, check if the email address has the relevant domain name and verify it with the company.

In addition, watch out for language errors and non-professional terms. These are the biggest warning sign of a phishing scam, as many scammers do not put as much effort into their email language. If any graphics in the email look amateur-level too, then simply ignore and block the address.

Verify all Links in a Post or Email

When you see an email, social media post, or SMS with a link, then you need to verify whether it’s legitimate. Do not click on it without any verification. Simply hover over the link and see where it’s leading you to. This is especially true for shortened links, so never ignore this practice.

If the link looks misspelled or suspicious, then don’t click on it. Instead, report the communication as spam or fraud. These links may lead you to websites that harm your computer or cause data leaks.

Always Use Secure Websites

When you’re opening a website, always make sure it has the ‘https://’ prefix. Do not open links with the ‘http://’ prefix, as they are not secure. In addition, most browsers also let you see the security certificate for websites you want to see.

If your browser alerts you about problems with any sort of security certificate, then you should avoid such websites. In many cases, any information you enter on these websites will be used nefariously or simply leaked. Therefore, you should know the basics of website security, and not fall for suspicious websites.

Do Not Share Personal or Business Details

When you see a random website, email, or SMs asking for your financial, personal, or business details, do not just enter them willy-nilly. Always confirm who’s asking for the information and why they need it. Then, verify this information with their company. The best practice, though, is to simply not respond to any such appeals.

If this information is relevant for anyone, then you probably know those people directly and can confirm with them using other mediums. Only enter this information in completely verified places like your banking portal. Otherwise, you may fall victim to one of these scams.

Act Wary on Any Communications with Urgent Language

One of the most obvious warning signs of phishing and smishing scams is urgency. Many scammers pretend that they’re in some sort of time-sensitive situation which they cannot escape out of. This includes emergency appeals or offers which ‘you cannot miss out on’. So, if you receive a text or email asking you to share these details before something dire happens, report it to the relevant authorities.

This is especially common with banking details. You’ll receive a message or email from an unverified source that says your account will be shut down if you don’t share your details immediately. These are usually scams and can get you into a world of financial and legal trouble, so always call up your bank to let them know about such situations.

In conclusion, you need to avoid various phishing and smishing scams at all costs. These can drain you of valuable resources and put you through a whole lot of trouble you don’t really want.

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