During these uncertain times we are all facing during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Internet bad guys have made it clear they aren’t giving us a break. Phishing emails (fraudulent emails made to look like legitimate emails which contain malicious links and attachments) are on the rise as cyber criminals look to make quick money and exploit people using email. Common malware & virus attacks such as ransomware are seeing a dramatic increase while the world is transitioning temporarily to working safely from home. Despite all this bad news, with a little bit of caution, you can protect yourselves online!
Most phishing emails from the past contained easy to find spelling and grammar issues. This is no longer always the case in today’s world, but if an email contains any obvious spelling or grammar issues, you should always give it a second glance over!
Another thing to always double check are the links within the email. If you receive an email that reads “click HERE!!” in big, bold lettering, always hover your mouse cursor over that “click here” button to see where the link is going to take you. If you received an email from Facebook.com, but the link reads badguywebsite.com, then you might have almost fallen for a phishing email! Some people utilize the “unsubscribe me” button at the bottom of an email, but as it turns out even that link can be faked! Always check that as well and consider using your email client to mark the email as spam instead. This will get rid of the email without the risk of clicking a link.
If you get an email from someone you haven’t talked to before, or haven’t talked to in a long time, that tries to entice you to click a link or an attachment, you may want to take a moment to check everything out before you do. This is a common way Internet bad guys fool others! Finally, if that email you received came to you at a very strange time (as in maybe 3am) or it just overall gives you a feeling of being “odd” that they sent it to you, just remember – “when it doubt, throw it out!” A missed email is far less bad than a potential malware infection or compromised accounts!
Other helpful tips to stay safe online:
- Never give your online banking (or any other website for that matter) login credentials to anyone over email, phone, or chat.
- Never give your personal information such as your social security number to anyone over email or chat.
- Always verify that the website URL at the top of your Internet browser says the website you think you are logging into properly without any misspellings – websites can be faked! If you’re trying to log into “belco.org” but it says “b3lco.org” in the URL bar, don’t continue
- If you ever have doubt about a link in an email, type in the website you’d like to access yourself and then navigate to the material you are looking for.
- If you really want to verify an email is legitimate, call the person who sent it! You can also send them a separate email if you’d prefer
For more information, visit the FTC website.