Phishing. It can happen to almost anyone. Phishing emails try to trick you into clicking on their fraudulent links or attachments, which can inject your computer with malware or otherwise con you into giving away credit card numbers, login credentials and similar personal information.

For example, there’s been a fake email making the rounds lately, posing as an urgent notice from Schwab, and promising the recipient a “Security Benefits Award.” All you have to do (so they say), is click on the link provided and your account will be credited.

Unfortunately, those who fall for phishing schemes are far more likely to lose money than be credited any. Sheriff Schiffer here, with three solid suggestions on how to avoid getting hooked by a phisher.

  1. Don’t Click. Your first and strongest line of defense is to never click on any links or open any attachments in a phishing email. If you don’t take their bait, they won’t be able to reel you in.
  2. Don’t Trust. While it’s too bad we must always be on guard, today’s online environment essentially requires it. Rest assured, if Schwab or any other reputable service provider requires follow up from you, this is NOT how they’ll go about requesting it. Be especially wary of:
    • Unsolicited emails arriving out of the blue, even if they’re supposedly from a familiar source
    • Enticing offers or scary alerts with a sense of urgency; phishers know people tend to throw caution to the wind when greed or fear takes over; they literally bank on it
    • Typos, bad grammar or generic salutations; not all phishing emails contain these, but many do
  3. Do Verify. Believe me, your family, friends and professional alliances would much rather hear from you directly if anything they have supposedly sent to you seems suspicious. It’s always a good idea to be in touch by calling or sending a separate email (don’t hit “reply”), and asking the alleged sender if they really did send it.

A bonus tip: If an email smells “phishy” to you but you’re not sure either way, you should also be able to reach out to your financial advisor or a similar reputable source, asking for extra input. Here at Hill Investment Group, we’re happy to assist our clients with these sorts of questions. It’s in everyone’s best interest if we all join forces against phishers.

Hill Investment Group