What is Phishing?

Phishing is a cyber threat that attempts to gather personal and private information through fake links or portals online. Phishing scams trick Internet users into providing their sensitive information, such as credit card or Social Security numbers, in order to steal your identity.

How does it work?

Usually phishing is achieved through fake online links, such as pop-ups, misleading ads or suspicious emails. Phishing portals convince web users into supplying personal information to unsecure sources. Below are examples of information phishing scams typically ask for:

  • Credit or debit card numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Address

To keep your identity and finances safe, it is important to know how to prevent phishing.

How to prevent phishing

There are a number of ways to help protect you against phishing scams that either you, your Internet service provider or your device manufacturer can do.

Be a smart Internet user and learn how to recognize potentially dangerous sites. Here are a few things to keep in mind about your safe Internet usage:

  • If you or a friend have successfully used a site before, or if it is a well-known site, then it is safer than unheard of links.
  • If a window pops up that you didn’t click on, don’t offer it any information.
  • Don’t enter any personal information without knowing what it’s being used for and who is asking for it.
  • If you are concerned about the safety of a site, find a phone number for the page and call to ask about it.

Your Internet service provider or your device manufacturer is also helpful in keeping you safe online. These companies offer a variety of useful tactics, software and services to protect you from Internet dangers. Here’s what you might be able to find with an Internet or device provider:

  • Anti-malware software to help protect against viruses, spyware, phishing and more.
  • Professional advice and guidance to teach you how to avoid cyber threats.
  • Expert surveillance to monitor your Internet usage.
  • Preventative action to find problems before they happen.

Phishing vs. spam

Spam generally just means “junk mail.” It’s email that you don’t want or care about often with random content or annoying ads. For the most part, spam is not dangerous. Phishing examples include emails that have links and seem safe but are just tricking you into clicking a link to enter your information.