Phishing is a form of cybercrime that has been strongly on the rise in recent years. In essence, criminals abuse your trust to steal personal data. This often involves login details and passwords that they then use to embezzle money.
Read all about the different forms of phishing and keep the following tips particularly in mind so as not to give criminals a chance!
1. Beware of senders you do not know
If you receive a message or e-mail from someone you do not know, you should be extra careful. These are usually commercial e-mails and newsletters from shops you have bought something from before and there are no bad intentions involved.
But it never hurts to be careful with e-mails from people you don't know. The subject of the e-mail can also set off alarm bells.
2. Don’t be gullible
The days when you could recognise malicious e-mails by their sloppy lay-out and language errors are long gone. It is therefore important that you read the content of the e-mails you receive from unknown senders carefully. Have you allegedly won something in a competition you never heard of? Did you inherit money from someone abroad that you don't know? Then it's best not to click on any links in the e-mail.
Do they urge you insistently to check or change your details on a website they refer to in an e-mail or SMS message? That is always suspicious.
3. Check the links, but don’t click on them
Don't click on the links in such e-mails. If you accidentally do, you will be sent to an 'unsafe' website where malicious people will ask for your data and details, or where malicious software is automatically installed on your computer.
If you hover your mouse over the link (without clicking on it!), the web address to which the link refers will appear. That is not what you get in the e-mail. You can hide a web address behind every piece of text.
If the web address is very long and contains a nonsensical combination of letters and numbers, you shouldn't trust it. If you get an e-mail from your bank (say, KBC) and the fake link doesn't start with www.kbc.be/ you know you're being tricked. This brings us seamlessly to the next tip.
4. Do not change your data just like that
Financial institutions and government agencies will never ask for your personal details by e-mail or SMS message or ask you to change them. They have your details and if you need to change them, they will send you a letter requesting that you make an appointment by telephone and that you go to them. Or they tell you to change your details at an ATM.
No matter how real they look, e-mails from your bank or another institution, in which they ask you to fill in your details via a website (which also looks completely like that of your bank), to change them and to confirm them, should be deleted immediately. They always come from criminals.
5. Contact the sender
Have you received a message or an e-mail that seems suspicious? Then simply contact the person or institution that sent the message or e-mail, not by replying to the e-mail, but by forwarding it to a known e-mail address of that person or institution.
Swindled? Take action immediately
Have you received an e-mail or a message with a suspect link? Are you sure you received a false e-mail? Forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will investigate the message and the sender.
Did you click on a link in a phishing mail? Never complete forms and never download documents or software. If you have entered a password that you also use elsewhere, go and renew that password on every site and application where you use it.
Have you noticed that cyber criminals have been able to withdraw money from your bank account? If so, notify the police and your bank immediately.