It is December already and for sure, many phishing activities will prevail especially for those longing to receive Christmas greetings via email messages or even buying holiday gifts via an online way and sometimes neglecting unforeseen details due to Christmas holiday rush.
Phishing is not an incorrect spelling of fishing nor it is a cute way of enhancing its meaning. Although the idea came from the act of fishing wherein fishermen gather fishes as supply for food whereas phishing is gathering data (fishes) as supply for illegal activities (food supply).
Phishing is a mischievous act that tries to trick you into logging into an unknown website disguised as a legitimate website. All logging credentials will be affected including username, password, and even your credit card details. This is commonly happening in our email communications wherein attachments and links are included in an email message which is sometimes so tempting that the reader unknowingly clicked on it and then when opened already, personal information and other important data will be asked or required to be inputted.
Now that you know what phishing is, how do you avoid getting phished?
1. You can avoid phishing activities by being aware and wary of any email messages that you read especially from unknown sources.
2. Do not just click any link that you can see on any email messages. This is especially true with those email messages that require you to click a “Verify Now” button, image, or link. If you click it, the website that you will open may require you to input your personal, bank, debit card, and credit card details.
3. Always remember that banks and other financial institutions are not required to ask any sensitive information to be given via phone or email messages unless it is really necessary such as when you are already communicating with a legitimate bank personnel. These sensitive information may include the following:
These are usually the login name required for gaining entry to a legitimate website. This can be the email address, full name, or any name that the card owner have created during the first visit to the legitimate website which is usually the first time all personal information are declared.
These are combination of letters, number, and special characters that is use as additional security feature of a website so that nobody can just access your information easily.
These may include all your personal information including bank account number and even the balance on your bank accounts which may sometimes be tempting for any individual. Personal information can also be used against any other online activities that you may have since such personal information are usually the same for any legitimate website unless you have a secret life.
Credit card details
This may include the credit card number that are embossed or found on your credit cards.
Card expiration dates
This is the date that your credit card will be going to expire which is important too since having an expired credit card already, may render you unable to continue with any offline or online transactions that you may have.
CVV or CVC
These are acronyms for card security codes which means Card Verification Value or Card Verification Code found on debit cards and credit cards that provides security features that increase protection against debit card or credit card fraud. There are actually two security codes, one which is not seen by a normal person but can be seen by a machine and the other which is usually seen by the card holder and which is usually asked by merchants especially during an Internet transaction.
The CVC2 or CVV2 is also known as CSC and is a mandatory requirement to be given when a cardholder is not present in person thereby providing a means for merchants to verify the veracity of the credit card. On the other hand, the reason that CVC1 or CVV1 is not seen by the naked eye is because it is encoded on the magnet stripe of each card so always be careful not to bend or even crack your debit card or credit card. This is also the reason why banks required each user to cut their expired cards into two so that security cannot be accessed by any unscrupulous person.
4. Always protect yourself from any online activities especially when you receive any email with links. Watch out for these signs that can help you in determining if you are reading a fake message. These signs may include the following:
- Poor grammar which may look unprofessional and did not even bother using any tools for checking or correcting grammar usages.
- Erroneous spelling of words which is really shows unprofessional demeanor towards any client.
- Any requests for personal information including your full name, address, and phone number.
- Any misleading statement that your bank has “lost your personal information” which may require you to fill up another form.
- Any threat that leads to deactivating or blocking your account especially if you don’t comply with the requirements on the email message.
- Any untrustworthy attachments and links.
- Any slightly off visual elements or appearance that disturbs your natural instinct of trust.
Online scammers are also the number one perpetrators when it comes to phishing activities. Scam incidents can be prevented by being cautious with your online personal information.
You can also do the following steps when you are in doubt of a pending scammer activity:
- Avoid unnecessary clicking of email attachments and links especially if you don’t trust the sources.
- It is better to type the URLs or website address on your favorite website browsers for safety measures.
- If you see any pop-up windows which can even cover your entire screen, do not enter any important information on it.
- Remember to update the antivirus and antimalware security software on your personal computers.
- Always make sure that any URL of any website you visit is legitimate by checking the spelling which may sometimes look legitimate especially double letters or sounding like the legitimate websites such as Facebook instead of Faceboook or Faecbook.
- You can always check the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate of a website by looking at the left side of your URL bar and if you see a lock icon, it means that the website is using additional security measures such as SSL certificate which is used to indicate encrypted information are transmitted between a web server and a browser.
- Check the settings on your antivirus or antimalware software and try to enable blocking of suspicious websites as added security measures for a worry-free online activities.
- If you ever found a scammer or encounter any scamming activity, please report it to the concerned legitimate website.