Phishing scams have been around as long as the Internet has been. As they grow in complexity and scope, Internet consumers must stay abreast of the latest ways to avoid these fraudulent tricks. On top of new developments in phishing strategy is the COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic, we saw a dramatic increase in Internet shopping, entertainment, and overall online presence, which led to a corresponding soar in phishing attacks.

If you’re worried about phishing scams compromising you or your business, follow these tips to avoid being swindled. You can also contact IT consulting services to identify and eradicate the weaknesses in your IT security system.

Recognize a Phishing Scam When You See It

The simplest way to avoid scams is simply to see them for what they are. This is sometimes easier said than done, however. Phishing scams generally attempt to retrieve personal information from individuals via email or text. Because they pretend to be a company you trust, you are more willing to provide the information, especially if you believe one of your accounts may be compromised. Phishers could impersonate your bank, an online company, or a social networking site, among many other possibilities. If you receive a message indicating suspicious account activity, mentioning government refunds,  or asking you to confirm personal information, it is cause for suspicion.

Stay Up to Date on the Latest Techniques

Phishing techniques evolve quickly in order to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape of the Internet. If you pay attention to the news, you may hear about particular attacks you should be aware of. Scammers often attempt to impersonate legitimate agencies or induce a sense of urgency to steal your login credentials, payment information, or other sensitive material. They also try to pander to your fears and uncertainties. For example, during the pandemic, many scammers attempted to use stimulus payments as a lure. Although Google does its best to filter out scams, not all can be caught before reaching the consumer. By staying in the loop, you can reduce your risk of being scammed.

Install Updates Regularly

Do you constantly click “install later” when your computer or phone suggest updates? Installing updates sooner rather than later can actually help protect you against Internet scams. It works like this: hackers discover a loophole in the program, coders plug the leaks, then a browser update is released to strengthen the browser’s security. The more quickly you install the browser or system update, the more protected your system will be against phishing attacks.

Keep Confidential Information Private

This one may seem like common sense, but it’s the number one way you can defend yourself and your business from phishing attacks. There are rare circumstances in which you must disclose this information, as with your bank, accountant, or insurance agent. However, those instances are few and far between. If you’re ever in doubt, call the legitimate agency to confirm whether or not they requested the personal information. In most cases, however, they won’t ask you to upload sensitive information through email or a link. If you find yourself in this scenario, you could be dealing with a phisher.

Be Smart About Clicking on Links

When you’re on a trusted site, you don’t usually have to worry about which links you click. However, you should be suspicious of links from emails and text messages. Oftentimes, they don’t lead to where they claim. Go directly to the source when in doubt. Never disclose sensitive personal or financial information unless you are absolutely sure the receiving party is trustworthy.

Have Layers of Security

These days, many accounts offer multi-factor authentication services. This means that when a suspicious login is detected, you will receive a texted code, be required to scan your fingerprint, or in some other way be asked to confirm your identity. With multi-factor authentication, even a stolen username and password is not sufficient to gain access to your accounts.

Use Security Software

While there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself from Internet scams, extra layers of security are always a bonus. Anti-phishing toolbars can be installed to function on virtually any online browser, like Safari or Chrome. If your system does detect a scam, it will send you an alert. Deciding to install antivirus software will set additional protective measures in place.

Need Help From IT Consulting Services to Defend Your Business From Phishing Scams?

Even with all the precautions you take on your own, there may still be some holes in your system. That’s where the Haber Group steps in to help. For over 20 years, we’ve served small and medium-sized businesses with care, integrity, and efficiency. We can shore up any weaknesses that may leave your company vulnerable to phishing scams or other malicious attacks, allowing you to focus on what matters most: your company. To learn more about how our IT consulting services can provide peace of mind for you and your business, contact us today!