While we often speak about protecting your home, it’s equally as important to protect your personal data.
That’s right – phishing is on the rise, and you need to know how to protect your personal and private data, which helps you protect your home and family.
In total, according to Statista, there are thought to be approximately 611,877 phishing sites detected online.
That’s over 600,000 opportunities for someone to steal your credit card information, other financial details, or even steal your identity.
But phishing scams don’t happen exclusively on websites – they also occur in text messages, phone calls, and on social media sites.
In light of this, this blog post is a basic guide on how to prevent phishing scams, helping to protect what matters to you most.
Phishing scams are becoming more intelligent
A decade or so ago, phishing scams were much easier to spot. You’d receive an email that was out of the ordinary, the spelling and grammar were completely off, and things didn’t quite add up.
On the other hand, these days, phishing has become more intelligent – it’s a lot more difficult to spot what’s real, and what’s not.
For example, scammers can now use local phone numbers, their grammar is typically a bit better, and throughout time, they’ve begun to understand methods that actually work.
How to prevent phishing scams
So, with phishing scams not only being more common, but also more intelligent, how can you ensure you’re not a victim?
There’s a few things you can do, including:
- Know what to look for
- Keep all software updated
- Back up your data
- Use two-factor authentication, if possible
- Avoid giving out personal information
To help you further understand each piece of advice, we’ll now explain these in more detail below.
Know what to look for
If you don’t know what to look for, then you’re much more likely to fall victim to a phishing scam.
Look for fake email addresses (hyphens or misspelled company names), mobile numbers instead of proper company phone numbers, and repeat messages which get progressively more aggressive.
Let’s showcase a common example: a scammer may claim to be with the government, threatening you with a fine and asking you to send money to an account. First things first, you should verify its authenticity.
Call or contact the appropriate government services (and do not contact the number or details you received the message from).
Often, going to the source is the easiest and most reliable way to confirm whether it’s real or not – whether you should be worried, or whether someone is trying to steal your personal information.
Keep all software updated
This is a general good practice for all devices you have around the home: keep them updated.
Using the latest software protects your devices from security breaches, hacks, and viruses.
Over time, new updates are released with more protection, ensuring you do not become victim to a cyber or phishing attack.
Back up your data to prevent phishing scams
If you have any important data on your computer, phone, or other devices, it’s important to back it up.
However, avoid keeping financial and other sensitive information online and in easy to access places, such as your Apple notes or Google docs.
Use two-factor authentication, if possible
Some online services allow you to use two-factor authentication. If this is available, we highly recommend that you use it.
And sure, while it can be slightly annoying having to receive a text and fill out a few fields every now and then, it drastically increases your security online.
Avoid giving out personal information
Finally, as a general rule of thumb: avoid giving out personal information. The more information out there, the more likely you are to either be scammed or phished.
Remember: even services such as your bank do not ask for your pin number – keep it to yourself, and if you’re unsure, double-check before giving out any details.
Don’t forget to protect your home
Protecting yourself alone and avoiding phishing scams also enables you to protect your home.
If you do have a smart home, there are a few additional things you can do to protect your home from criminals and cyberattacks, including:
- Regularly change door passcodes
- Always upgrade to the latest software on all home automation devices
- Do not give out your personal information (e.g. passcodes)
Smart home or not, creating a safe digital and technological space protects your financials and other sensitive information.