How to Avoid Phishing Scams

By Elizabeth Freeman , last updated October 29, 2011

You receive an email from your bank asking you to update your information. If you click on any links in the email, you may fall victim to a phishing scam. It's important to learn how to avoid phishing scams since phishing scams try to get valuable personal information from you. An example of such information could be your credit and bank account numbers. Once scammers get this information, they can steal your money. When using online services and email, be extra diligent to avoid these scams. If you get a suspicious email, report it to your bank or company right away.

First Things First

When you get an email telling you that something negative has occurred on your account, it's natural to feel panicky. You don't want to lose money or other investments, such as your home. Anytime you get an email demanding information, pause for a few seconds and think. You may not have even given your bank your email address or your bank may not use email to communicate with you.

Don't Click on Anything

Whatever you do, do not click on any links in the email. If a phone number is provided, compare it to the phone number on your bank statements or the bank's official website. Some fishers ask you to reply with your account number and address. Do not reply at all. Never send personal information over email, as it is not a secure way of sending information!

Do Some Background Research

Check out the official website of the company if you are concerned. Type the address in manually or click on a bookmarked page. Be extra cautious when entering your log-in information. The website should only ask for the standard information, such as your user name and password. Check the URL for security. If the site is secure it should have the "https://" protocol in the address. This ensures your protection from hackers or scams.

Alert the Companies Involved

Send any scam emails you receive to the relevant company. The company needs to know about any scams so that they can alert other customers and prevent fraud. You should also send the email to spam@uce.gov, so that the Federal Trade Commission is aware of it as well.

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