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Scammers use a multitude of ways to trick you into giving them your critical personal information. Read on to know how to protect yourself from different types of phishing scams and stay safe in the event of a data breach.

Phishing scams, fraud calls and identity theft: How to identify and avert the loss

One of the most common malicious security challenges faced by both individuals and businesses is the phishing scam. This compromises sensitive information by luring people to click on fake links or share personal details on the phone. This is an increasingly growing challenge; the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center reported a massive loss of $57 million to phishing schemes in just one year.

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To prevent yourself and your business from being put in a vulnerable spot, you must learn how to identify a phishing scam and stay safe. Here's how you can do that:

Learn to spot suspicious activity 

The first step to staying informed is to recognise phishing attempts made by fraudulent groups or individuals. While scammers are constantly updating their techniques to lure people into sharing sensitive information such as bank account numbers and passwords, there are some warning signs:

  • Phishing emails and text messages with a story asking you to download an attachment
  • Messages from your bank warning you of a suspicious activity or forced login attempts 
  • Phone calls asking you to confirm personal information 
  • Emails luring you to click on a payment portal link 
  • Impersonating a vendor on the phone and asking for personal details

Tip: Educate yourself and your employees to read between the lines in situations like these. You can also conduct a mock phishing scam exercise to ensure that your team stays vigilant. 

Take steps to protect yourself 

Once you have identified a fraudulent call or email, the next step is to ensure you protect yourself by enhancing security. Follow these steps to protect your information from identity thieves: 

  • Add layers of security software on your computer to detect spam emails or malware intrusions
  • Deploy two-factor authentication to prevent hackers from gaining access to user credentials. This extra level of security, also known as multi-factor authentication, works in different ways. An OTP or passcode can be sent via text, or a retina scan may be required to sign in
  • Avoid saving personal bank account details on your mobile phone. If you do use a mobile device for online banking purposes, make sure it is updated with the latest software 
  • Back up your data in different places - an external hard disk, cloud storage, or even your phone - to circumvent data loss or theft

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How to respond to scammers

Defending yourself from a phishing attack calls for more than just a coordinated approach to security. It requires you or your team to think quickly and respond to the occasion. In case you receive an email or message from a company asking you to click on a link or download an attachment, what do you do? 

First, verify the source of contact and how you know them. If you don’t, report and delete the message. If you do know the company, but the message does not come from a credible link, contact the company directly. In case of an unfortunate breach where you may have shared sensitive information with a hacker, report the attack immediately. Scan your device for malware to prevent further attempts. 

Related: The Risk Of Investing In Unregulated Financial Instruments

Tips to avoid being a victim

  • Do not reveal any personal or financial information in an email or on a phone call
  • Before sending or entering sensitive information online, check the security and authenticity of the website
  • Pay attention to a website’s URL. Dubious websites may look identical to an authentic site, but the URL will have a variation in spelling or a different domain like .com vs .net

Last words

To protect yourself from phishing scams, fraud calls, and identity thefts, be constantly alert. When in doubt, delete messages, links, attachments - in fact, anything that could bring malware into your system. Think before you share your personal information with anyone.

Follow these simple steps, and you can ensure your safety.