How often have you checked your email and received an alarming message from your bank or any other company saying that your account is in danger of being closed? Although these notices often look convincing, the unfortunate fact is that these messages are almost always phishing scams. For those unfamiliar with the term, email phishing is a type of email that appears to be from a legitimate company in order to steal personal information from the recipient. Although it can be difficult to determine whether an email is legitimate or not, by following a few simple phishing prevention tips, you can greatly reduce your chances of falling victim to a scammer.

Never Trust Alarming Emails

The first major tip to keep in mind is that most reputable companies will not request personally identifiable information or account details via email. This includes your bank, insurance company, and any company you do business with. If you ever receive an email asking for any type of account information, immediately delete it and then call the company to confirm that your account is OK.

Do not open attachments in these suspicious or strange emails — especially Word, Excel, PowerPoint or PDF attachments. Another useful phishing prevention tip is to avoid clicking embedded links in emails at all times, because these can be seeded with malware. Be cautious when receiving messages from vendors or third parties; never click on embedded URLs in the original message. Instead, visit the site directly by typing in the correct URL address to verify the request, and review the vendor's contact policies and procedures for requesting information. Windows OS products are often targets so be sure you're secure whether you are running the newest OS or, Windows Vista - security is essential.

The Importance of Internet Security Software

Another simple way to mitigate your exposure to phishing messages is to use free virus protection and anti-spam software to protect yourself when malicious messages slip through to your computer. Since anti-malware tools are specifically engineered to protect against even the most complex threats, they are a vital tool to have installed on all your computers as they are designed to complement common sense.

Password Management Made Easy

In addition to having virus protection software on your computer, it is crucial to use a password manager to manage your online credentials. The reason you need a password manager is because today it is vital to have different passwords for all websites because if a data breach ever occurs, malicious attackers will try using the discovered credentials across the web. One of the best features of password managers is that they usually automatically fill in login forms to minimize clicking around. Additionally, many password managers include portable editions that can be saved to a USB drive, ensuring that you can take your passwords wherever you go.

While phishing can be a difficult area to tackle at times, by following the simple tips in this article and embracing proper phishing prevention tools, you can greatly minimize your risk to falling victim to digital scammers.