5 Ways to Shield Yourself From Phishing Attacks

June 27, 2023

Phishing scams are getting more sophisticated every day and messages from these scammers may pop up just about any place you spend time online or on your devices.

Phishing is a type of online scam that involves fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, or personal details. These scams are typically carried our through deceptive emails, text messages or websites that appear legit. When this happens in the realm of digital banking, the stakes can be even higher.

Even though scammer technology improves every day, there are ways you can protect yourself by learning how phishing scams work and how to avoid falling into a phishing trap.

Understand the Basics of Scam Tactics

Phishing scammers use messages as "bait" to get your attention and convince you to take an action, such as clicking a link, logging into a fake website, or typing in your name, account number, password, or other personal information.

Common variations on phishing may be referred to as:

  • Smishing: Phishing done by SMS (text) message
  • Vishing: Phishing done by phone or in a voice message

Understanding these tactics as a baseline is important because every day there seems to be new twists on phishing. These can include "spear phishing" targeting a specific person to "angler phishing," in which a scammer pretends to be a customer service representative in order to trick consumers who have complained about a customer service issue on social media.

What comes next are five ways to spot problems and get ahead of phishing scammers.

1. Look for Phishing Red Flags

Most phishing messages have certain hallmarks in common. Here are signs of phishing that may tip you off that a message is, well, fishy. A phishing message may:

  • Look like a message from a legitimate company. A phishing message may resemble a message from a legitimate company that you do business with, such as a bank, online payment platform, or streaming service.
  • Claim you need to act now to fix a problem or get an opportunity. Most phishing messages will ask you to click a link, log into a website, or hand over personal data for some reason that sounds plausible at first. Common phishing tactics include: claiming there's a problem with your payment information for an account; stating that you need to pay an invoice now; or offering you a coupon, discount, or fake government refund.
  • Feel "off" or just not quite right. Don’t click the link or open attachments from thephishing email. Some phishing messages may use a generic greeting instead of your name. They may include a link to a website with a domain that resembles that of a real company—but the name may be one letter off, or the logo might look a bit odd. As scammers get more skilled, their messages become nearly impossible to identify at first glance.

2. Don't Panic or Act Quickly

Most phishing messages are expertly written to push your panic buttons. They may describe an "urgent" crisis in which your account or your finances are risk if you don't do what they tell you to quickly. This fake urgency is designed to stir up your fight-or-flight response, making you more likely to react and less likely to take your time and think through the situation calmly.

3. Go Straight to the Source

If you get a message that claims to be from your bank or another service provider you do business with, do some legwork to find out if it's real—or not. But don't respond to the message or use any contact information it offers. Instead, contact the company by going directly to their website and talking with customer service by chat, phone. or email. Outline the details of the message you received and ask if there is any issue that requires your action.

4. Report the Problem

If you get a phishing message, report it right away. Reporting phishing can help the company notify law enforcement quickly to increase the chances of catching the crooks and stopping them from scamming others. To report phishing, take these steps:

  • Report phishing to the company. If you got a phishing message claiming to be from a bank or other company, search the company name and the phrase "phishing email" to find out if they have a dedicated email address to which you can forward a phishing message.
  • Report phishing to federal authorities. You also can report phishing or any other scam on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fraud report page and at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center file-a-complaint page.

If you accidentally responded to a phishing message, visit IdentityTheft.gov and follow the recommended steps to protect your identity.

5. Be Ready for the Next Tactic

Make sure you're using the best tools and practices to protect yourself from phishing and other scams in the future. For example, installing security software on your devices and keeping your apps and software up to date can protect you from pop-up phishing, which is phishing that happens in pop-up ads or messages.

This can also shield you from pharming scams, which are similar to phishing scams. In pharming, a cybercriminal installs malicious code on your device, sending you to a cloned or fake website.

Think of it like this: Keeping your devices secure is like locking your front door to keep criminals out. So take the time to learn about the latest phishing techniques and how to avoid them in order to protect yourself, your money, and your identity—and help put scammers out of business.


To ensure your security, we highly recommend clients to please reach out  to a City National Bank of Florida specialist if you receive any messages from our institution that appear suspicious.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for further assistance and clarification.

Please note: The content in this article comes from individual opinions and experiences. The content should not be taken as advice coming from City National Bank of Florida. City National Bank of Florida does not offer tax, legal or accounting advice.







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