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Phishing: Don't Get Caught in the Net

Keep your personal information safe with these 7 ways to protect against phishing.

by Navy Federal on September 24, 2018 | Tag(s): Security

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If you’re like most people, the internet is likely a large part of your life these days. You can stay in touch with faraway friends and family, pay your bills, conduct business and even buy new products without leaving the comfort of home. While it’s an easy and convenient lifestyle, be sure to protect your identity when you’re online and avoid leaving your information vulnerable to fraudsters.

One of the most common ways that cybercriminals attempt to get this valuable information from you is through phishing. Phishing involves using fraudulent emails and copycat websites to trick you into revealing information such as bank account numbers, credit accounts, your Social Security Number, login IDs and passwords.

Cybercriminals will often use phishing email messages, websites and phone calls to trick you into installing malicious software or hand over your information under false pretenses. Downloaded malware can do things like track your keystrokes to nab your personal and account information and passwords. Phishers may employ a number of tactics to steal your information:

Names of real companies. Many phishers use legitimate company names and copy the look of official websites to fool you.

“From” an employee. Some even make it appear the email is from an actual employee of the company. Be wary of unprompted emails from a “company employee” looking for information.

Official-looking URLs. Sometimes the URL will look right, but in reality, it will lead you to a copycat website. Check to see if the URL begins with “https://” to see if it’s a secure site—most phishing scams won’t have a secure website. Never click on a URL within an email; instead, type the official URL into your browser.

Threats and urgent messages. Many fraudsters try to use scare tactics to obtain information by threatening something like the deletion of your account if you don’t respond. Fortunately, they’re probably not capable of doing that.

Luckily, you can take steps to protect yourself from phishers:

Luckily, you can take steps to protect yourself from phishers:

  1. Call and verify. If you have reason to believe something is amiss, call the company to verify. Be sure not to use a number provided in the suspicious email.
  2. Look for bad spelling. Large companies and organizations use professional writers and editors. Phishing emails often have stilted or incorrect grammar or misspellings. Keep an eye out for uncharacteristic grammar and spelling mistakes.
  3. Beware of links. If you’re suspicious of an email, don’t click on any links. Hover your mouse over the link and see if the address that appears matches the link typed in the message. If it doesn’t match, don’t click on the link, as it could take you to fraudulent websites or download malicious software.
  4. Read your statements. Take a close look at your monthly financial statements. This can help you detect fraudulent transactions if your identity has been stolen.
  5. Increase your security. If you engage in online financial transactions, updated personal firewalls and security software installed on your computer are essential to keeping your information safe.
  6. Use a different computer. If you have fraudulent transactions on your account or suspect your info has been compromised, use a different computer to change your passwords. Your computer may have a virus.
  7. Keep up on the news. Stay up-to-date on news of phishing attacks to protect yourself. Anti-phishing organizations, such as Anti-Phishing Working Group, provide lists of new and current phishing scams.

If you believe you’ve received a phishing message from “Navy Federal,” email us at phishalert@navyfederal.org and include the original message when possible. If you believe you may have responded to a phishing request, please contact Navy Federal immediately at 1-888-842-6328. Call us collect internationally at 703-255-8837. Visit our Security Center to learn about other ways to protect your information and accounts.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.