Photo: Flickr / MATEUS_27:24&25
Phishing attacks — online trolling for personal information in order to raid your financial accounts — are soaring.According to cyber-security experts at RSA, phishing attacks jumped 37 per cent last year and have proven to be exceptionally costly, with the average attack resulting in $4,500 in stolen funds.
With National Consumer Protection week on the horizon, Visa (V) is attempting to help consumers spot phishing attacks before they’re taken.
The credit card company has published an online guide to the tell-tale signs that you’re being phished.
Admittedly, the warning signs have gotten far more subtle in the past few years — and a really good con artist can appear legitimate to even the most diligent consumer.
In some cases, con artists even have access to some of your personal information already, like your name and maybe even the last few digits of your credit card number.
But there are still 5 simple ways to catch a phishing attempt before it catches you. Specifically:
Don’t click. If your bank or credit card company sends a warning message saying that your account has been compromised and you need to click through an emailed link to “verify your account information,” don’t.
Banks and credit card companies don’t communicate that way. Neither does the IRS. If there’s a problem with a bank or credit card account, they’ll call you. If the tax authorities want to contact you, they do it by U.S. mail.
Go direct. If you get one of these emails and are worried that there may be a real problem with your account, open up a new browser window, go directly to your bank site and sign in there.
Chances are, you’ll see something along the lines of: “(Your bank) DOES NOT send emails instructing you to click on a link to enter your personal information.”
When you sign on without trouble and there’s no other message from your bank saying that your account is compromised, you know that it’s not. Delete the email that caused you to worry, but remember it — and the fact that it was a scam — for next time.