Phishing attacks are a cyber criminal’s attempt to steal your information by posing as a familiar organization, such as your employer or a government agency. Now, attacks are on the rise. From May to October of 2022, there was a 61% increase in phishing scams from the same period in 2021.
These cyberattacks can take many forms, but the formula remains the same. In a phishing scam, a criminal will try to pose as a legitimate entity in order to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, bank account logins, or personal identifiers. Phishing scams can include emails, text messages, voicemails, and more.
What to Watch For
Cybercriminals have recently shown an increased preference toward using voicemail and text over other channels of communication. In certain cases, they may even reach out to you through two channels at once.
Additionally, phishers are starting to use more targeted, topical lures. For example, during the holidays, you are more likely to see scams related to discounts for retailers. Or, during tax season, you might see scams related to getting more money on your tax refund.
Since these lures are constantly changing, it’s important to stay vigilant year round.
Keeping Your Guard Up
The best way to protect yourself from a phishing scam is to be wary about giving out personal information to any party, particularly if the information is personal or related to your finances. If a form of financial communication seems even somewhat suspicious, take a moment to examine it closer.
One common red flag is if the sender is pressing you to submit your information urgently. Another is when someone asks you for information that they wouldn’t normally need, such as your “employer” asking for your credit card number.
Also, check the sender’s address for signs of a suspicious email account, or the email itself for any questionable URLs. If anything looks out of place, be sure to avoid clicking on them altogether. In some cases, clicking a link is all it takes to get a cyberattack underway.
Finally, using security tools like multi-factor authentication can help filter out potential scams before they even get to your inbox. In the current macroeconomic and technological climate, the old saying has never been more true: it’s better safe than sorry.
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