In part one, we focused upon ways to identify and prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a phishing scam. In part two, we focus on what to do in the event that you actually become a victim of a scammer.
Hopefully, it will never happen to you, but in the event that you do become a victim of a phishing scam, here are a few tips to help you out.
It is not your fault
When Adaware Malware Lab Team members speak to groups and individuals, inevitably we get at least one or two people to tell us that they would never fall for that, or that only a fool would be a victim. Well, the truth of the matter is that we all can be victims of phishing scams. No matter how smart and streetwise you consider yourself – YOU CAN BECOME A VICTIM.
Scammers make their money by being able to con people, so they constantly change their Modus Operandi, if one scam does not work, then they are right away onto another that is even more sophisticated.
Gather your facts
Take screenshots of the scam email, noting the email address of the sender, the content of the email, as well as the URL address that was clicked. This will help relevant entities investigate the phishing attack.
Report the phishing attack
If you think a scammer has illegally obtained your information, like your credit card number, Social Security, bank account number, or other critical data do the following:
- Report the phishing attack to the relevant organization that was spoofed (i.e., bank). This will alert the organization and possibly help other people from not becoming a victim as well.
- Report the phishing attack to the appropriate government department, for example, IdentityTheft.gov
- Forward copies of the phishing email to the FTC at email@example.com and to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Immediately notify your bank, credit card company, or any other relevant organization.
Change your Passwords
If you inadvertently clicked on a link that you thought would bring you to an organization that you deal with on a regular basis or a social media platform, but it directed you to a malicious website, immediately change the password for that account. As a good best practice, it is also prudent to also change the passwords for any other account with the same or similar passwords. Online tools like LastPass will enable you to create and maintain complicated passwords that are difficult for scammers to break.
Run a complete scan of your system
Running a complete scan of your computer is both a prudent and wise best practice. An antivirus software solution like Adaware will examine your computer and not only eliminate any potential viruses, but it will also eliminate any spyware that may have been maliciously installed.
Adaware Best Practice Tip: If you believe your computer is being hijacked, disconnect from the Internet first, in order to stop the scammer in their tracks. Then perform a complete scan of your computer.
Install an antimalware solution
Anti-virus software is designed to protect, detect, and remove particular malicious threats only after they have infected your computer. However, they can not always catch every single risk or defend against the most advanced types of malware, in the same way, anti-malware solutions like Web Companion can. Malware is designed to evade detection, which is why the anti-malware software must always be one step ahead of the hackers.
If you believe your computer is being hijacked, disconnect from the Internet first, in order to stop the scammer in their tracks. Then perform a complete scan of your computer.
Monitor for Identity Theft
- Review bank statement for any unusual activity. Notify your financial institution that your banking data may have been compromised.
- Notify your credit card company and monitor ongoing statements.
- Notify the credit reporting agency in your area.
- Look for any unusual emails that you may receive from foreign companies asking for payment or asking you to confirm that you signed up to them.
Phishing scams are a constant hazard in our everyday online life. If you do get caught in one, remember to follow these steps in order to minimize or eliminate any potential damages.