Don’t blame yourself if you fall for an email scam, also known as phishing. Fake emails are becoming more elaborate every day, sometimes it is very hard to differentiate them from legitimate ones. It's no surprise that the FBI points phishing as a major threat to the digital world.
Fraudulent emails are created for different purposes, such as to steal your personal information, hijack your devices or even to persuade you. In the end, criminals intend to make money at your expense or use your information to practice other scams, or both of them, we never know.
I’m a victim of a phishing, what should I do now?
1. Change Credentials and Passwords. If you fell for a phishing scam, it's important to change all your online accounts passwords, such as from email, social media and banking. Here's a basic, yet important tip: don't use the same username and password for all your accounts.
2. Report the fraud to authorities and companies involved. Explain the case to your police department, to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (FBI), to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and to all companies that may be involved in the case, such as your bank and credit card company.
3. Scan your system with a good engine for detecting malware and other viruses. If you were victim of a phishing scam, you may have opened a backdoor for a Trojan, for example. So, you should run a complete scan and remove or quarantine suspicious files.
4. If you haven't done it yet, back up your most important files before they get infected or stolen. When you are sure that your device is safe, you can restore the files.
5. Depending on the case, such as a ransomware attack, disconnect your devices from the Internet and the network. That can prevent further damage, reducing the risk of a malware spreading, for example.
6. Learn from mistakes and keep up to date on Internet scams. Criminals use different techniques to apply scams. That’s the reason why you should learn about them and beware of frauds. The more information you have about phishing, the less likely you will be affected by it.
Remember: if you feel you need help to implement these steps, contact a specialized IT technician or a cybersecurity company.