For as long as humans have been around, there have been those willing to take advantage of others’ naivete and prey upon their weaknesses – and as long as internet access has been commonplace, there have been online scam artists. Although their methods and success rates vary, most online scammers have engaged in some manner of phishing. This type of e-scam comes in many different forms and is built around tricking and/or extorting targets out of sensitive personal data. As advances continue to be made in the field of digital security, phishers have stepped up their game, facilitating the need for everyday internet users to do the same. In the quest to keep phishers far away from your personal information, the following pointers will serve you well.

Exercise Common Sense When Sharing Personal Information

Being selective about who you share personal information with can go a long way in deterring the efforts of phishers. This means only giving out important information over the phone and through websites whose security has been verified. It’s also in your best interest to be wary of requests for this information, even those that come from parties you recognize. Phishers love sending information requests that purport to be from legitimate banks, credit card companies and online retailers. These messages claim that problems have been found with the target’s account. Furthermore, many of these requests contain links to fraudulent sites designed to look like they belong to the companies they claim to be representing. Should you receive one of these messages, visit the actual site in question instead of the one being linked to, regardless of how legitimate the latter looks. If there’s a genuine problem with your account, you’ll be informed of this after logging in.

Pop-Up Screens Are Not Your Friend

Some phishing schemes involve the use of malware. After finding its way onto your devices, malicious software will often bombard you with pop-ups that claim a virus infection has occurred – and in order to combat this infection, you’ll need to purchase anti-virus software being peddled in the pop-ups. In many cases, these messages will also present you with boxes in which to enter your personal information. If malware has taken hold of any of your devices, abstain from sharing any personal information. Instead, have the device serviced by an experienced tech support professional. Once a malware infection occurs, it’s generally too late for a legitimate anti-virus program to make a difference. This is why preventative measures against malware are particularly important, especially for website owners and administrators. SiteLock reviews can provide answers to site owners looking to fortify their defenses.

Pay Close Attention to Your Email

Modern-day spam filters generally do a good job of detecting junk messages and communiqués from questionable senders. However, these filters are by no means flawless, and a few disreputable messages are bound to slip through the cracks. Emails designed for phishing purposes aren’t always as easy to spot as you may think, especially when they appear to be from friends, family members, and professional acquaintances. Luckily, phishers don’t tend to be gifted forgers, and the content of their messages often makes it clear that they aren’t from people in your inner circle.

Be Wary of Links

As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid clicking links found in emails, texts and social media messages from unfamiliar senders. These links will often take you to malware-laden web pages or sites designed to steal your personal information. Even if a message purports to be from a trusted friend or colleague, it’s in your best interest to carefully review its content before clicking on any links contained therein.

Despite being one of the oldest forms of e-trickery, phishing remains as prevalent as ever. Since successful phishing expeditions can result in a considerable financial gain, online scammers have little incentive to stop. While it’s clear that phishing isn’t going anywhere, there are numerous steps internet users can take to ensure that they don’t fall victim to it. By putting the tips discussed above to good use, you can keep your information out of the wrong hands and ensure that any phisher who sets their sights on your data walks away disappointed.