Updated: Jul 2, 2019
The increase of Internet breaches has lead to an increase of phishing scams targeting consumers and businesses. Here are some tips on how to avoid falling victim to these schemes.
In most cases, the criminals have not taken over your computers nor have they recorded videos or taken screenshots or pictures.
Though the subjects of these email may differ, the general message is that your machine has been hacked and they have information about you which they will share unless you pay them, mainly in bitcoin.
The scams often use passwords stolen from websites to lend credibility to their claim and create fear that will motivate their victims to pay them.
If you get these suspicious emails:
Keep in mind that the sender does not have screenshots or videos of you.
Don’t reply to the email or engage with the individual who sent the email.
Don’t click on any links or open attachments to verify the sender’s claims.
If you know the sender, contact them directly in person or by phone to verify if they sent you the email in question.
Identifying a phishing email:
There are many ways you can identify suspicious emails. All of them require you take a little extra time before responding or reacting. Keep these in mind the next time you receive a message that attempts to use fear or intimidation to motivate you to act.
Sender: Hover over the sender's name and URL. Do you recognize it? If not, it is most likely a phishing email and you should follow the steps outlined above.
Message: What action is being requested, clicking a link or downloading a file? Never click a link or download a file unless you are absolutely sure you know the sender.
Tone, spelling and grammar: Is the tone urgent or demanding? Are there misspelled words or poor grammar? These are indicators in a phishing email so pay a little extra attention to all incoming messages and their content.
If you receive a suspicious email requesting sensitive information, or containing links or attachments, question it, block it, or delete it.