Dear Editor,Phishing scams are not new. For years, scammers have been tricking consumers, making them reveal crucial information pertaining to their credit cards, debit cards and bank accounts. Numerous financial institutions now routinely sending out alerts to consumers, warning them about fraudsters. Yet, a friend of mine almost fell prey to a phishing fraud last week.She recently got a mail -a genuine one- from one of his credit card companies, saying she is going to lose all reward points earned by her through spending on his credit card, if she failed to redeem them within a fortnight.So when she got a text message from his other credit card company saying that her points will expire in 24 hours and she should take immediate action to convert the points into cash to be credited to his card account, she did not initially suspect anything.She even clicked on the link given at the end of the message and it opened up a form to be filled by her – that looked authentic enough with the logo of the bank, but the particulars asked for, make her suspicious. The form asked her to provide not just his name and mobile number, but also his date of birth, credit card number, including the Card Verification Value (CVV) on the back of the card. So she went back to the message to check it again and this time, she noticed several grammatical errors that confirmed that it was a ‘smashing’ or a phishing via text messaging scam.Thank God she use brain and was saved from this fraud. But many times we are influenced and do the mistake and become easy targets of these fraudsters.I would like to share few steps to stay safe from such frauds. Common sense and a ‘trust but verify’ approach is the best way to protect your accounts from online fraud.Moreover, change your email password frequently, and don’t use the same password for your email on other accounts. Use secure passwords that have capital letters, numbers, and special characters.Only trust encrypted websites. Encrypted websites start with ‘https’ instead of ‘http.’ Your browser may also display a lock icon to show that the site is encrypted. It’s not a guarantee the site is safe, but it’s an indicator that it’s more secure.Don’t email signatures or account numbers. Don’t send full account numbers, passwords, wiring instructions, or other personal information via email. Use a secure file-sharing service to send documents that have personal data or signatures and simply make a phone call if you need to give an account number.Clicking on an email link or opening an attachment from an unknown source could download a virus to your computer. Don’t click on email links if you don’t recognise the sender. If you receive an email claiming to be from your bank requesting information, don’t click on a link in the email; it could send you to a fake website. Visit the bank’s website on your own or give them a call instead, and be sure to use a number you’ve verified is real. Always be cautious with unsolicited emails.By using these simple tips we can stay safe from frouds.Meena Jamwal,Panjthirthi.
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