Phishing is a global problem through which cyber criminals try to steal or acquire your personal data in order to get passwords, account numbers and other types of sensitive information with the ultimate aim of getting your money.

They do this through emails, messages and fake websites posing as a legitimate entity that’s trying to get you to take a specific action such as clicking on a link, calling a fake number provided in the email, message or website, downloading an infected attachment and other cunning ways to get to you and your funds.

This type of action will typically result in the installation of certain malware on your computer, which will either damage it or give the fraudsters entry into your PC or other device you’re using. Clicking on a link and providing your personal data such as PINs and account numbers on a webpage that you’re taken to also means that these criminals will be able to see your keystrokes and access your data from there.

There are many ways for these cyber criminals to get to you and to stay safe you need to take precautions and always be on the lookout in case you spot anything suspicious.

Here are some tell-tale signs of a fraudulent email or website:

  • The website doesn’t have the padlock symbol before the URL
  • The URL does not begin with httpS but only with http
  • The email asks you to take an urgent action
  • The email contains an attachment which you are asked to download
  • There are numerous spelling errors or typos in the text
  • If you hover over the link, the address differs to what’s displayed on the actual link
  • There is a phone number for you to call but this phone number is not the official number of your institution
  • The introduction of the email is odd and either contains no name or your name spelt incorrectly
  • You have not recently made any changes to an account but you’re asked to take urgent actions before the account is closed or acted upon further
  • You were not expecting this type of communication from your bank provider
  • By calling the number on the email, you’re asked to reveal your PIN and/or account number

The list is quite long as you can see!

Remember that your bank account is precious. It contains all your hard-earned funds. You need to remain vigilant and protect it from fraudsters. One way to do so is to forward the suspicious email or message to your bank provider and let them know you suspect it. Another option is to report the email as phishing. Your Outlook account should have a special, red phishing button for this.

You can also continuously update the security on your computer and other devices, install updates on your phone regularly, never share your secret bank account information with anyone and choose two-factor authentication from your email provider or bank.

Remember that any time you spot any of the above signals, or if you were not expecting a call, message or email from your bank, the chances are that it’s a phishing attempt. You need to stop and think carefully, look at the piece of content you’ve received in detail and then report it. Don’t trust the source and assume that it is safe, especially if it’s not a transaction you’ve initiated.

It’s also a good idea to visit your bank’s official website or call a number you will see on their official website to talk to someone to confirm whether any action is, in fact, needed on your account. Keep in mind that these employees will never ask you for your PIN or account number and this information should be kept confidential and known only to you.