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The word “phishing” uses the first letters in the words “password harvesting” in place of the ‘f’ in “fishing.” It refers to text, voice or email messages from hackers disguised as known contacts or institutions asking victims for sensitive account information or electronic funds transfers. Bogus requests often imply that the victim or someone they know could suffer loss or harm unless they respond quickly. How can you recognize a phishing attack?
Check whether the sender’s address or number matches a known and verified contact. Spelling, grammatical and other errors are warning signs.
Always check what comes after the @ in the sender’s email address. Addresses with typos or modified spelling that resembles a legitimate address are common deceptions.
Criminals often send messages that use the name and address of a legitimate contact -- even your own! That’s why you can’t rely only on names or addresses that seem to be correct. Careful reading of message content can help. Technical measures such as checking the Reply-to, server, authentication, routing and other data in an email header can help determine if a message is bogus or legit.
Phishing often tricks victims into downloading malware via links or document attachments. Always view the URL embedded in the text or graphics of a message before clicking on it by placing the cursor over it for a few seconds. Do not click on an attachment unless you requested or expected it and are 100% sure it’s safe.
Phishing exploits victims’ trust and fear. It is far safer to verify any suspicious text, voice, or email message by using a separate trusted web address or telephone number to contact the sender. Businesses and government agencies are aware of phishing attacks and want to help people avoid scams.
Being alert and aware is the best defense against cyber fraud and deception. Take your time when responding to requests and think twice about what information you share.