Phishing: Slow Down When Asked to Act Immediately

  • By Bree Ann Russ
  • Aug 19, 2022

phishing attacks prevention

You get an email, or maybe a text, and it says someone stole your bank user name and password. But, if you hurry, you can log in and change them before your funds leave your account! What should you do? Initially, you should do nothing but take a moment to assess the situation.

Phishing attacks are designed to catch you off-guard with a sense of urgency. The attacker poses as an authority figure or a trusted source and sends you a link asking you to take action immediately. The link then takes you to what appears to be the authentic site but is actually a site controlled by the attacker. 

If you fall for the trick and enter your password or other sensitive data into the phishing site, your account is at risk of being hacked. Plus, you increase your risk of identity theft

If you get one of these emails, don’t click on any links in them, don’t reply with personal information, and don’t act immediately. Instead, take a moment to think about why someone would want your personal information and whether it makes sense for you to act now.

Don’t Panic

Some phishing emails are meant to create a sense of urgency, fear, and panic, so you immediately click the link and unknowingly put your data at risk. If you get a suspicious email, don’t panic; just don’t click on any links or take any action on it. 

Instead, forward the email to the actual company that you believe sent it to you. If you received it at work, then forward it to your company’s IT department or someone in your company’s human resources department. 

Some messages sound so urgent that you do not feel the decision can wait long enough for someone to read it. If that is the case, call the company directly to ensure you aren't being tricked by a phishing email.

Ask Yourself Why

When you receive an email that asks you to take action immediately, it's essential to ask yourself why you're being asked to act now. If the urgency doesn't make sense, then the email is likely a phishing email. 

What you want to be watchful of is if the email asks you to change your password, click on an email link, or send along sensitive data. These are signs your account is at risk of being hacked.

It might be real if the email asks you to confirm personal information such as your address or credit card number. But if the request is urgent, think about why the person or company would want that information immediately.

Check the URL

Check the URL to make sure that it leads to the authentic website. Don't enter any information if you click on a link and are taken to an incorrect or different website. If the website is legitimate, it'll redirect you to the correct site. Be very skeptical before adding any information to any website that comes from an urgent message, no matter the reason or the sender.

tips to prevent phishing scams

If the URL looks strange or has a typo, it's probably a phishing site. If you receive a legitimate email asking you to click on a link, but the URL appears suspicious, don't click on the link. Instead, copy and paste the link into your browser to ensure it leads to the correct website.

Read Through the Email’s Body Text

Look at the email's body text and see if it makes sense. It might be a phishing email if the text doesn't make sense or includes grammatical errors. If the email asks you to click on a link or act immediately, check the body text to see if it makes sense. 

Most of the time, if the request makes sense, it's probably real. If the request doesn't make sense, it's likely a phishing email. When unsure, it is best to err on the side of caution and not click on anything or do anything the message demands you do. 

Take a Breather

When you receive an email that asks you to take action immediately, take a few minutes to relax, calm down, and process what you read. If you feel you are being scammed, you should verify the email's authenticity before making any choices. If the email is authentic, you can take action on it once you know it is real.

Review Your Accounts to Ensure They Are Accurate

Keep track of your sensitive information, such as your address, credit card numbers, and login details, and ensure they are accurate. If you receive a phishing email asking you to update your account with incorrect information, don't click on any links or send sensitive data to the attacker. Instead, go to the source and update your information directly. For example, if your bank needs you to update your password, log into the bank’s website from a web search or go into the bank and have them help you.

Keep Your Personal Information Private

Don’t reply to phishing emails with personal information such as your address or credit card numbers. Instead, verify the authenticity of the email. If the email is real, then you can act on it. If the email is a phishing scam, you'll help stop the attacker from gaining access to your account. 

Worried you may have been scammed in the past? Then consider identity monitoring services to help keep your data as safe as possible. Scammers are good at making you feel powerless. Take back your power and learn tips on keeping your personal information and passwords  out of their hands.

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