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3 Essential Strategies To Strengthen Phishing Defenses

Oct 27, 2021
Posted by: Stearns Bank
Lock symbol over woman scrolling on her phone

Phishing is one of the oldest tricks in the cybercriminal’s book, but it’s still going strong. In fact, phishing attacks have nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022, reaching over 500 million reported cases in 2022.

Why are phishing attacks so persistent and effective? Because they exploit one of the weakest links in any cybersecurity system — human psychology. Phishing attacks rely on deception, manipulation, and urgency to trick people into clicking on malicious links, opening infected attachments, or divulging sensitive information.

That’s why you need to be vigilant and proactive in defending your organization against phishing. In this post, we’ll share three key strategies to help you spot and stop phishing attempts before they cause any damage.

1. Know the Red Flags

Let's talk about how to spot deceptive phishing emails. The best phishing attempts often look impressively legitimate at first glance. But if you know what to look for, you can usually detect a few red flags that reveal something is amiss.Warning sign on email

What are some of those red flags? Watch out for things like:

  • Awkward formatting, sloppy design, or grammatical errors. 
  • Urgency cues or threats to close your account that push you to act rashly. 
  • Subtle inconsistencies in the sender's address, logo, or other details that seem slightly "off."

With time and vigilance, you'll get better at picking up on deceptive phishing tactics. But until you've developed that keen eye, remember this simple rule: if an email seems remotely fishy, err on the side of extreme caution before clicking or responding. Your instincts are often correct, so go with your gut.

2. Verify the Source

Scammers are sneaky — they'll often pretend to be someone you know, like a coworker or client. If an email seems fishy, take a minute to check if it's really from who it claims.

Shoot the supposed sender a quick note through a channel you know is legitimate — like their work email or cellphone. Ask if they recently sent something and describe the content briefly, but don't forward the sketchy email itself.

If they have no clue what you're talking about, it's a phishing scam. Break off communication immediately and report the incident. Don't reply to the scammer or click on anything they have sent.

3. Be Aware of Vishing & Other Phishing Offshoots

As we've gotten smarter about spotting phishing emails, scammers have expanded their tactics. One common technique is voice phishing or "vishing."Unknown caller showing up on cell phone screen

This is when you get a shady phone call out of the blue from someone pretending to be a trusted business or organization. They might say they're your credit card company, doctor's office, or even your bank. But it's all a scam to steal your personal information.

The goal is always the same—to trick you into giving up passwords, account numbers, or other sensitive details. And they can sound convincing, often spoofing official-looking phone numbers to make you think it's a real call.

For your security, Stearns Bank will never call and ask for your username, password, secure access code, or other personal details like your IP address. If someone claiming to be from Stearns Bank contacts you requesting this type of information, hang up immediately and call us at 800-320-7262 to report it.

Partner With Stearns Bank for Ongoing Support

Stearns Bank's fraud protection programsPhishing scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making it crucial to stay vigilant. But you don't have to face these threats alone. At Stearns Bank, we're committed to protecting our customers from fraud.

Leverage our free resources like My Credit Manager and ID Protection to monitor your information and receive alerts about suspicious activity. Our fraud experts also provide ongoing education to help you identify subtle red flags in phishing attempts.

We know scammers are constantly adapting their tactics. That's why we work hard to stay one step ahead so we can update our customers on emerging risks. Partnering with us means you'll have the latest knowledge and tools to outsmart cybercriminals.

Don't let the bad guys win. Team up with Stearns Bank today to reinforce your defenses with personalized guidance and support. We'll work together to keep your finances safe from phishing. 

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