As a result of the recent Epsilon data breach, customers of US Bank, TiVo, Capital One, Dell, Best Buy, Disney Destinations, Visa Card, and Walgreens, to name a few, have had their email addresses compromised and have received warnings to be on the lookout for phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks are criminal attempts to fool people into give up confidential information by sending them fake emails that look like they’re from well-known companies and organizations. A prime example is the bogus IRS emails sent out during “tax season” requesting Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and other sensitive data that can be used to defraud you.
Here are some suggestions and advice to consider following so you don’t fall victim to a phishing attack:
#1 – No reputable organization is going to request this type of information by way of email.
#2 – Be suspicious about any email you received, even those sent to you by friends or family.
#3 – Be very suspicious of any email you receive that has an attachment. Don’t open any attachment, no matter what it’s supposed to contain, unless you’re absolute insure it’s something you want to view.
#4 – Don’t be frightened or rushed into doing anything. If you do open an email purportedly from the IRS or the FBI or some other authority, don’t be bullied into responding simply because you’re given a deadline and threatened with some kind of penalty.
#5 – Do some research. You can use Google to search the email’s subject line. Then analyze the results. It you see anything suspicious popping up, then delete the email.
#6 – Pick up the phone. Here’s an old school option: just use your phone to talk to the party that sent you the email. Be sure you get the phone number from another correspondence or your phone book, not from the email or website.
#7 – Study the links before you click on them. Use your gut instinct. If they the links look suspicious, the probably are.
#8 – Install good, up-to-date security software like Trend Micro™ Titanium™ that blocks phishing attacks and advises you of the danger.