Have you ever accidentally clicked on a link in an email from a friend only to find out the link wasn’t legitimate?
That is called a phishing attack.
Every day, over three billion phishing email messages are sent that contain harmful links, and over thirty percent of the time people click on these links, potentially exposing themselves and their contacts to identity theft. According to our service providers, the rate of attacks on US citizens and businesses has increased exponentially in the last few years.
At Boston Trust Walden, we take cybersecurity seriously and utilize enterprise-level protection software, services, and experts to ensure we are well positioned to avoid and mitigate such attacks.
But what can our clients do to protect themselves from these types of attacks? Below we explain the two most common types of attacks and what you can do to safeguard your personal information.
Phishing is when cyber criminals attempt to gain access to your sensitive data. They do this by sending emails that look legitimate and attempt to trick you to click a link or open an attachment. This may be an email that appears to come from your bank, Amazon, LinkedIn, or PayPal, for example. The link contained in the email could be malware that, once clicked, will infect your device. Or the link could redirect you to a website that appears legitimate and asks you to enter your personal information. Once a cybercriminal has your personal information, they can impersonate you online and effectively steal your identity.
Smishing is phishing but sent via text message to your mobile device. These threats have evolved to distribute malware that will infect your mobile device. If you have a smart phone, you have most likely received one of these texts – perhaps it was addressed to the wrong person or contained a political message. Like phishing emails, the purpose of these messages is to convince you to click a link so that someone can steal your personal data.
Your Best Defense: S.T.O.P.
This is a useful acronym to remember the next time you receive a suspicious email or text.
Always validate the sender of the email or text. Is this someone you know? Does the email address look unusual? Is the message poorly written or contain any misspellings? Always look closely at the email address, not just the sender’s name. If you don’t recognize the sender or the email address, don’t reply — and never, ever click on any links in the body of the message.
Check what type of email or text you received. Are they asking you to confirm personal information? Does it say they’ve noticed suspicious activity or login attempts? Be aware of urgent or threatening messages claiming your account has been suspended or prompting you to click a link to unlock your account. Don’t click the link or reply to suspicious text messages, even to opt out of future messages. Delete them!
Often we recognize something is suspicious or “off” and convince ourselves to ignore that feeling. Don’t! Overthink and scrutinize the email or text you receive. If a message looks odd or contains misspellings, it should raise a red flag.
Take a moment before replying to the message or clicking any links. If the message sounds alarming and you are worried there is a problem, login to your account directly on the organization’s website from your browser or simply contact the sender by phone. Get a second opinion and ask someone else to look at the email or text before doing anything. If you feel pressured to respond or act immediately, that should be your cue to pause and take a closer look.
Safe Ways to Contact Us
At Boston Trust Walden, we will only contact you in the following ways:
- Email from an address with the domain @bostontrustwalden.com
- Phone call from a real person who is an employee
- US mail
If you are concerned you have been exposed to a potential identity theft scam, please contact your client service team right away so they are informed should someone try to impersonate you.
Cybersecurity is an important and growing issue. When identity theft occurs, it can take years to unwind the negative impact. At Boston Trust Walden, we spend significant time and resources to keep client data secure. Clients can ensure an added level of protection by implementing these precautionary measures in their day-to-day activities.
For more tips and resources on how to protect your personal information, please visit www.consumer.ftc.gov