Tips to Avoid Phishing

Business traveler walking through a long hall.Phishing is a trick that scammers use to steal personal information. This often happens via fraudulent e-mails, phone calls, or texts, designed to seem like the communication is from a reputable individual or company. Scammers who conduct phishing attempts seek sensitive information like card numbers, PINS, account numbers, passwords and certain confidential information. Unfortunately these attempts can be very convincing, and people give away their personal information all too often. Scammers will even use personal information they have found or illegally purchased online to target their message, and to make themselves seem more legitimate. 

Some recent phishing attempts feature attention grabbing subject lines or phrases like “Reactivate your debit card”, “Change your debit card PIN”, “Update your personal information” or “Your account has been compromised.” If you are unsure whether or not the message or phone call is legitimate, don’t give out personal information. Look up the company’s website and call them using their official number.

Legitimate business should never ask you to verify your account number, Social Security number, debit or credit card number, PIN or any other sensitive personal financial information via e-mail, pop-up window or text message. 

Phishing can harm in other ways too. An e-mail designed to look like it comes from a legitimate source can contain links that will download malware to your computer if clicked. Many dangerous programs, like the recent ransomware attacks that have been in the news, are carried out by an employee clicking on a phishing e-mail link. 

Your vigilance is the best defense against phishing, and here are some quick tips to help keep your information safe.

  • Before you open an e-mail, make sure you know the sender. 
  • Exercise caution when clicking on links or opening attachments through e-mail.
  • Keep your security software active and up to date. 
  • Never give out personal information unless you are positive who you are communicating with. 

If you have questions about phishing, the Federal Trade Commission has a wealth of information.

Learn more about keeping your information and data safe at