Phishing is a breed of online fraud that relies on technology and deception. First recorded in the early 1990s, phishing has come to be known as any attempt to trick or persuade web users by imitating a legitimate company. Most times, the end goal is to steal personal account details or private information.

Newer prevention guidelines suggest signing up for services to guard your identity or adding extra layers of digital security on your computer. While it’s all sound advice, effective phishing protection starts with your ability to recognize a scam when you see one.

What is phishing?
Have you ever received a suspicious e-mail with broken links, misspellings and requests for money? Attacks don’t always come in the most professional formats. Many times, you can spot a scam by keeping an eye out for strange wording or low-budget presentation. When you see an e-mail asking for money or personal info, take note of its overall appearance.

Typically, a phisher will pose as a representative from a real company, such as a credit card issuer or delivery service. He or she will then ask you to download potentially harmful files to your computer, or flat out ask for things such as a credit card number or password.

Don’t confuse phishing with vishing or smishing. Vishing involves tricking consumers into giving up personal information over the phone – the v is for voice. Smishing is like vishing, except that it occurs through text messages instead of email.

Be cautious – personal phishing protection requires patience and careful judgment. When you read through a company-sponsored e-mail, search through every inch of it for any red flags. Generally, no company will ask for sensitive information on the spot.

What is phishing prevention?

If you’re looking for complete protection, you’ll probably want to dig into software packages from an accredited phishing prevention service. Anti-phishing software works to identify bogus e-mail addresses and fraudulent requests – it’s essentially a personal screener for your inbox.

Protection can also come included in Internet browsers. Occasionally, phishing scammers will set up online forms or surveys, rather than spamming you with e-mail. If you have the right Internet browser, you’ll get some help filtering out the junk.

Still, you can’t rest all your faith in a computer program. Sometimes, these deceptive spammy e-mails can slip through the cracks. The best phishing protection is your own awareness; learn what to look for, and don’t ever give out your personal information without doing some research.