Don't Click That Link!

Staying safe from online phishing

Fall 2021 Digital Citizenship Newsletter

Secondary Edition

What is "phishing?"

noun


The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

What is Phishing?

How can you avoid falling for phishing scams?


Know that most legitimate companies and organizations don't use texts or email for official communication.
  • The government, your bank, and other trusted establishments will not email or text you to ask for confidential information. If you want to make sure that a message from a trusted source is legitimate, call Customer Service first before clicking on anything! If it looks suspicious, you can also search online to check if it is a common fraud.


Be suspicious if you don't know the sender.

  • Don't click or download anything. You could end up with malware like viruses, spyware, or ransomware that can hold your mobile phone or computer information hostage for ransom. Also, don't email them back to ask. If it is a scammer, then they will know that your email is genuine and may use it again for other fraudulent activities.


Check for typographical and grammatical errors.

  • If the message or website is full of misspelled words, bad formatting (no punctuation, does not follow capitalization rules or in all caps) and incorrect grammar, it's likely a scam.


Sites where you need to key-in confidential information, should start with https not http.

  • The s stands for secure, which means that all communication between your browser and the website is encrypted. Also, be suspicious if it is a shortened link, or if it's full of special characters and ends in .com or .net.


If it seems too good to be true, it's probably a scam.

  • Beware of emails or texts with links that tell you that you have won unexpected money or that you can earn money just by entering your personal information. Also, many scammers will ask you to wire them funds in exchange for a large sum of money or a check.


Be wary of emails with a sense of urgency.

  • When the sender says you only have a limited time to respond, they are appealing to your sense of urgency to get you to make an ill-informed decision. Many of these will say that there is something wrong with your account (bank account, email account, social media account) and you need to hurry to correct it or your identity may be stolen. Always call customer service or your account administrator if you are concerned that you may have been hacked.


Always check with friends and family if you get an email or text that they are in trouble and need money.

  • Some phishing scams may pretend to be someone you know and ask for you to send them money via PayPal, Venmo, etc. These may be scams from someone who has hacked into your friend's account. Always call your friend/family member and let them know that you received a phishing email using their information!
Teachers for more information and a full lesson plan with lesson resources, visit Common Sense Media: Don't Feed the Phish


For more resources, check out Phishing.org

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