5 Tips to not fall for phishing or online scamming

5 Tips to not fall for phishing or online scamming

September 02, 2021
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According to Cisco, “Phishing attacks are the practice of sending fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source. It is usually performed through email. The goal is to steal sensitive data like credit card and login information or to install malware on the victim's machine. Phishing is a common type of cyber-attack that everyone should learn about in order to protect themselves”.

The most prominent of attacks relates to online shopping, which has only gained more and more traction over the years. These scammers create fake businesses and promote different products and ads. We have all seen someone’s Facebook or Instagram start posting endless links to win a free pair of Ray Ban’s, all because they clicked on a link that was ultimately a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently disclosed that individuals have been defrauded for a total of $545 million since January 1, 2020:

Worth noting that these are self-reported by consumers. Therefore, these numbers could be much higher as people are hesitant to admit that they got scammed.

Some of the quick steps you can take before shopping online is making sure the company’s website uses secure technology. If the web address begins with ‘https’ and a tiny, locked padlock symbol appears on the page, you should be in good shape.


Individuals have often received phone calls from people pretending to be the IRA or the Social Security Administration (SSA). The IRS does not typically call you. They will send you a notice in the mail before they attempt to contact you by phone. If you receive notification that there are any issues related to your social security number, contact the SSA directly. They have clear guidelines on what to do if someone calls you pretending to be from their office.

  What are some of the key things to look out for?

  • Getting you to take action right away
  • Any spelling or grammatical errors
  • Links within the emails that look odd
  • If the email/message says there is a problem or a prize

FBI Suggestions to protect yourself:

  1. Protect your devices by using anti-virus and anti-malware software. Set the software to update automatically.
  2. Don’t assume that a message that looks like it is from a friend or business associate is real. Use a known phone number or email account to contact the person or company to confirm before ever clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
  3. Most importantly if you have any doubt—don’t click.
  4. Do not send money or gift cards to anybody that you do not personally know and trust.
  5. Never give out your personal information, including banking information, Social Security number, or other personally identifiable information, over the phone or to individuals you do not know.

Victim of a phishing attack?

  • Alert your friends and colleagues so they do not become victims as well
  • Immediately update account information such as passwords and disconnect from any network that you believe is infected with malware
  • If it occurs at work, immediately notify your IT department.
  • Report it to the FTC:
    • Forward phishing emails to reportphishing@apwg.org (an address used by the Anti-Phishing Working Group, which includes ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions, and law enforcement agencies). Let the company or person that was impersonated know about the phishing scheme. And report it to the FTC at FTC.gov/Complaint.

- Kyle

Disclosure: This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.