These types of scams are one of the biggest threats we face online. Find out how to recognize, report and recover from phishing.

Step 1:Recognize

Red Flags of a Phishing Attack

Be suspicious of any email or text message that:

  • Seems unusual or out of place
  • Asks you to click on a link or open an attachment
  • Asks for personal or sensitive information
  • Comes from an unknown sender
  • Contains typos or grammatical errors
  • Contains threatening or urgent language

Step 2:Immediate Actions

If you clicked on a phishing link and/or provided sensitive information remember, it can happen to the best of us. There’s a few actions you can take to move forward and secure your account:

  • Go to the legitimate website, reset the password on your compromised account and enable two-factor authentication right away. If you are using that password for other accounts, change those too.
  • Forward the suspected phishing email to [email protected], where the Anti-Phishing Working Group will collect, analyze and share information to prevent future fraud.
  • Mark it as spam.
  • Run a full system scan using antivirus software to check if your device was infected when you clicked the link. If you find viruses, follow these steps on your device. If you still can’t remove the virus, contact a reputable computer repair shop in your area.

Step 3:Report

Reporting any type of cybercrime, including phishing attacks, is imperative to help others avoid being scammed. As a society, the more people that report online scams and fraud, the more national reporting data that is collected, and the better chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals and decrease cybercrime.

Step 4:Recover

Tips and Tricks to Spot a Phishing Attempt

  • Check the sender’s email address. If it is not from a legitimate company, do not open it.
  • Check the URL by hovering over the link.
    • If you are on a desktop computer or laptop, hover over the link with your mouse. You will find the full address of the link either near the link itself or somewhere on the edges of your browser window, depending on what web browser you are using.
    • If you are using your smartphone or tablet, hold your finger down on the link until a window pops up showing the full address of the link. Tap away from the window to close the preview.
  • Be aware of a sense of urgency or threats. For example, phrases such as “you must act now” or “your account will be closed” may be indicators of a phishing attempt.
  • Be cautious of messages that ask for personal information such as your social security number, bank account information, or credit card number.
  • Check for grammatical errors or misspellings.
  • If you are unsure about the message, don’t hesitate to contact the company directly to inquire about it. Don’t use the contact information provided in the email or text message. Look up the company’s contact information on their website or elsewhere.

Take 5 Steps for Better Online Security

It’s important to strengthen your online security to help avoid all types of online scams. Take action to improve your digital posture by following these steps:

  1. Implement Multi Factor Authentication (MFA): Passwords are generally easy for scammers to crack, and even if you use strong passphrases, there’s still the possibility that a cybercriminal can obtain your passphrase in a data breach. Implementing MFA is a great way to maximize your security and ensure that you are the only one who can gain access to your accounts. MFA should be implemented on all accounts where it is available. Check your account’s security settings to see if it is something you can set up.
  2. Update Your Privacy Settings: Privacy settings allow you to control your personal information (name, address, phone number, date of birth, financial details, photos or videos, etc) and how that information is used. Review your privacy settings on all of your accounts including your social media accounts. Consider restricting who can see your friends list, contacts, photos and posts.
  3. Activate Automatic Updates: Automatic updates are a set of changes to an app, software or operating system that are automatically pushed by the developer to fix or improve it. Oftentimes, cybercriminals take advantage of security flaws to plant malicious software on your devices. By activating automatic updates, you will automatically patch security vulnerabilities to protect your data.
  4. Use a Password Manager or Create Strong Passphrases: A password manager is a software tool that securely stores all of your login credentials in one place, allowing you to create and manage strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. If you are unable to afford a password manager, use strong passphrases. A passphrase is a combination of random words or a sentence that is much longer and more complex than a typical password. Using a passphrase instead of a password makes it much harder for hackers to guess or brute-force their way into your accounts.
  5. Learn the Elements of a Phishing Attempt: Familiarize yourself with the elements of a phishing email. Phishing emails tend to include a sense of urgency and multiple grammar and spelling errors. If they are asking you to reveal personal information, be suspicious. If you get a strange email, try contacting the company another way to confirm they sent that email. If the email is suspicious, mark it as spam.

TestimonialHear from Other Victims

Without, I don't know if I would have been able to react as quickly to protect my personal information.
Mary - Indianapolis, IN