Phishing emails are often disguised as legitimate emails from legitimate companies that users often transact with whose primary motive is to gain access to your personal information. These are often sent by “phishers” who are also hackers, scammers, identity theft criminals or spammers.
How To Identify Phishing Email
Phishing emails often come disguised as a legitimate correspondence from a financial institution like a bank or a credit card company. They will tell you that they are currently undergoing a merger and to secure your account, you have to verify your account details with them including your bank account number, full name and password when possible.
Other phishing emails will tell you won in a foreign lottery (your email was drawn or your name) and in order for them to process your check, you have to provide them with your banking details. Some phishing emails contain a link that when clicked will redirect you to a legitimate looking site where you will enter your personal details. Others often have some sort of form that is included in the message body that you have to fill up.
Avoiding Phishing Emails
If you receive an email, a pop-up message or an IM that asks for your personal details or any private information, do not reply to them. If they send you a link to click on, don’t click it. It will only redirect you to a bogus site. If you want to go to the legitimate site of the bank where you can transact, type their address on the URL box of your browser.
Do not call any number that will be specified on any email, pop up or IM that you will receive from unsolicited sources. These numbers often do not have 800 prefix. Again, these numbers can simply be numbers used by identity theft criminals. If you want to call your bank, call them on the number stated on your financial statement.
If you receive any suspicious emails, tag it as junk so that you will not get any in the future. Have the email sent and reported to your email provider so that they will be aware that phishing emails of this sort are being sent to their subscribers and they can take appropriate action. Print the email as well and send it to the institution or organization concerned. They should also be aware of this phishing email so that they can warn their depositors or clients about this issue.
If you have subscribed to any mailing list, opt out. Mailings lists of this kind can also be hacked by malicious individuals or identity theft criminals to gain access to multiple email accounts at once. There are also sites who will sell your email to organizations that may have other motives of sending you an email.
Read privacy policies of any site that you will visit who will ask for your personal information. This document clearly explains which information they will collect and how these pieces of information will be treated, stored and disposed of (if needed). This should tell you if the site that you are transacting with cares enough about your personal information or not.