Six Ways to Combat Phishing

Last year we posted a piece on Cyber Security Threats and precautions you can take to protect your privacy. It’s really a good post to review once again, especially before the holidays hit!

In this post, I want to bring awareness to what phishing is and how to recognize it because scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to steal!

For those of you who don’t know what phishing is, Wikipedia defines it as “the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as username, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.”

CBS News released a quiz that I found very enlightening - the quiz gave examples of emails, and you would answer if it was a phishing attempt or a legit email.  Take the 10 question quiz and see how you score.

Phishers can redirect links in an email to a copy of the legitimate site, where they then can collect your personal information and use it against you. They are utilizing technology to exploit the weaknesses of people. According to, the “primary reason why phishing continues to be an effective method of attack – even after a decade of anti-phishing efforts – is precisely because anti-phishing technologies are often designed to combat phishing by implementing technical “solutions” rather than addressing the human source of the problem.” If we educate and bring awareness to the human component, it will keep people safe in this growing electronic society.

Fake emails tend to have one or more of the following signs:

• Misspelled words
• Poor formatting
• Different sender email addresses or odd URLs
• Ask you to enter in personal information

Here is what you can do to combat phishing attempts and protect your privacy:

1. Educate yourself and keep these tips at the top of your mind when reading your emails.
2. Use trusted security software and always keep it up-to-date.
3. Never click on a link in an email if possible.
4. If a friend emails you or a company that you do business with asks for personal information, call them up and confirm what they need from you.
5. Never download attachments unless they come from a trusted source.
6. Forward suspected phishing emails to either [email protected] or [email protected]

In our experience as well, hackers ramp up their efforts around the holidays when hurried shoppers are furiously filling their shopping carts and getting a lot of digital receipts, confirmations and shipping updates. It’s important to always be aware of these potential scams so that the phisher comes up empty-handed!

If you suspect you’ve been deceived by a phishing scam, you can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at


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