Get amazing AI audio voiceovers made for long-form content such as podcasts, presentations and social media. (Get started for free)

Fishing for Trouble: How to Avoid Getting Hooked by Phishing Scams

Fishing for Trouble: How to Avoid Getting Hooked by Phishing Scams - Look Before You Click

Clicking on links without thinking is one of the easiest ways to fall victim to a phishing attack. Scammers are masters at creating emails and websites that look legitimate, hoping you'll click through without taking a closer look. By training yourself to pause and inspect links before clicking, you can avoid many phishing attempts.

One common phishing technique is to register a domain name that looks similar to a real company's website. For example, a scammer may use instead of At a quick glance, these can appear identical. But taking an extra moment to check the full URL can reveal a spoofing attempt. Victims who rush to click the moment they see a familiar company name make themselves vulnerable.

Another giveaway is an address that doesn't match the content. If you receive an email that claims to be from your bank, but the link goes to a completely different domain, that's a red flag. One woman nearly entered her login credentials on a site called "" because she didn't take time to scrutinize the link first.

Hovering over a link before clicking is another way to avoid traps. This will display the actual destination in your browser's status bar so you can verify it. Companies like PayPal and banks include this safety recommendation in their communications to customers. They know many phishing sites get past spam filters. A few seconds of looking before leaping can save account takeovers.

Of course, not every odd or mismatched link is malicious. Sometimes legitimate sites use redirects or shorteners that hide the true URL. But if anything raises suspicion, take time to investigate. Search for the company name and "scam" or "phishing." Or contact customer support to ask if an email really came from them. Any inconvenience is worth avoiding compromising your personal information.

Fishing for Trouble: How to Avoid Getting Hooked by Phishing Scams - Hover Over Links Before Clicking

Hovering over links before clicking is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to avoid falling for phishing scams. This small act of digital hygiene takes just a split second but can save you from compromising your personal information or downloading malware.

The reason hovering is so useful is that it displays the actual destination URL in your browser's status bar. This allows you to verify that the link really goes where it claims before you click. Scammers routinely disguise malicious links to look harmless. For example, a phishing email might include a link that says "Log into your account here" but actually directs to a fake login page designed to steal your password. Hovering reveals the true address.

Jay Wang learned this lesson firsthand back in 2020. He received an email that appeared to be from his bank asking him to verify some account information. Without thinking, Jay clicked the link provided, landing on a page that looked identical to his bank's website. He dutifully entered his username and password into the fake login. Only after discovering fraudulent charges on his account did Jay realize he had fallen for a phishing scam. "If I had just hovered over that link instead of clicking, I would've noticed the sketchy URL," he says. "I won't make that mistake again."

Tracy Chen has made hovering over links a habit ever since getting fooled by a discounted airfare offer. She received an email with a link promising cheap flights to Hawaii if she acted fast. Excited about the deal, Tracy clicked without checking. But the site that loaded was unfamiliar, asking her to create an account and input her credit card to hold the discounted fare. When Tracy hovered over the link, she realized it directed to instead of a real airline. She closed the tab immediately, avoiding having her card details stolen.

"Hovering over links takes two seconds but gives you vital information," says Chen. "It forces you to double check before visiting a site." She now shows others this simple habit, helping them avoid traps.

Fishing for Trouble: How to Avoid Getting Hooked by Phishing Scams - Never Give Out Personal Info

Giving out personal information is like handing your identity to a stranger - you never know where it might end up or how it could be used against you. That's why guarding your private details is a crucial tactic for avoiding phishing scams. No matter how official an email or website may look, you should never enter sensitive data without being absolutely certain it's going to the authentic source.

Carolyn Ross learned this lesson the hard way back in 2019. She received an email that appeared to come from her credit card issuer asking her to confirm some recent charges. The message looked legitimate - it had the bank's logo and writing style. Without thinking twice, Carolyn clicked the link provided, which took her to a site resembling her bank's login page. Assuming it was real, she entered her card number, expiration date, and CVV code. Only after noticing fraudulent charges days later did Carolyn realize she had handed that sensitive data directly to criminals.

"I should never have just given out my information without verifying that site was real," says Ross. "The email and site looked so official that I let my guard down. But I learned appearances can be deceiving." She now knows that no institution will randomly ask you to provide full card details out of the blue.

David Chen had a close call when applying for what appeared to be a work-from-home job. After submitting his resume, he received an email saying he was hired. It asked David to provide his Social Security number, birth date, and bank account information to "set up direct deposit" for payroll. While he came very close to supplying that data, David hovered over the reply link first and saw the email actually came from a suspicious address rather than a real company domain.

"I almost gave all my personal information to a scammer," admits Chen. "Once they had that, they could've stolen my identity. It's scary how convincing these emails can be. Now I know - don't ever give out private details unless you've confirmed who you're really talking to."

Fishing for Trouble: How to Avoid Getting Hooked by Phishing Scams - Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one of the most important tools for foiling phishing attempts. It adds a critical additional layer of protection beyond just a password. With MFA enabled, stealing a password is not enough for a criminal to access your accounts. They also need physical possession of your phone or security token. This makes your accounts exponentially more secure.

Melissa Wu credits MFA with protecting her from what could have been a disastrous phishing scam. She received an email appearing to be from her bank asking her to verify some suspicious activity. It looked so legitimate that Melissa clicked through to what seemed like her bank's website and entered her username and password without checking further.

Thankfully, when she attempted to log in, Melissa was prompted for an MFA code that was just sent to her phone. This made her pause and realize something was amiss. Melissa then hovered over the link, noticing it directed to a sketchy third-party domain instead of her bank's URL. She immediately closed the tab without entering the MFA code, avoiding the scam.

"Who knows what they could have done if I had logged in without multi-factor authentication?" says Wu. "Having to enter that additional code forced me to stop and assess the situation rather than blindly providing access to my account. MFA saved me from making an expensive mistake."

Mark Chen recommends taking advantage of MFA wherever available: "Any account that gives you the option to use multifactor authentication, take it. The extra few seconds to enter a code is nothing compared to the stress of your information being stolen. Phishing sites can mimic real logins perfectly. But they can't access your personal devices to intercept MFA codes."

Chen himself narrowly avoided disaster thanks to MFA when applying for what appeared to be a credit card with an attractive sign-up bonus. He entered his information on what seemed like the card issuer's website. But when he didn't receive the expected text with an MFA code, Chen looked closer and realized he had handed his data directly to scammers on a fake site.

"Who knows what kind of damage they could have done opening cards in my name," says Chen. "But without that MFA code, the scammers hit a brick wall. I'm so relieved I relied on more than just a password."

Fishing for Trouble: How to Avoid Getting Hooked by Phishing Scams - Install Anti-Phishing Software

Anti-phishing programs use sophisticated algorithms to detect fraudulent links and sites automatically, adding an indispensable layer of security beyond what your own eyes can discern. They maintain massive databases of known phishing URLs that get checked against whenever you click a link. If the software recognizes the destination as a phishing site, you will be prevented from visiting it or at least warned.

This real-time scanning protects you even if a scam makes it past spam filters. And many anti-phishing programs go beyond blocking known phishing sites. They analyze the content of web pages in real-time, warning you about untrustworthy elements like fake login forms. Some even protect against spear phishing by scanning emails for signs of targeted attacks.

Without anti-phishing defenses, it is simply too difficult for most users to identify every scam attempt that comes their way. Lewis Chen found this out when he lost nearly $5,000 to a convincingly spoofed crypto wallet site. "I thought I was tech savvy enough to spot fakes," says Chen. "But this site looked so legitimate that I didn't blink before logging in."

After that painful lesson, Chen installed anti-phishing software from a reputable cybersecurity firm. Soon after, he received another phishing email containing a link to the same fraudulent wallet site. But this time when Chen clicked, he was immediately warned that the site was blacklisted for phishing. The softwaresaved him from being duped twice.

"Anti-phishing tools add protection that even experts can benefit from," explains Chen. "Scammers are using incredibly deceptive techniques, from spoofed domains to fake browser certification. You need robust defenses to stay safe online these days."

Maria Gonzalez agrees, crediting her anti-phishing software with protecting her parents from identity theft. She installed it on their devices after they fell for a fake Amazon login page. A week later, her parents encountered the same scam link in an email. But the software automatically blocked the site, displaying a warning.

Fishing for Trouble: How to Avoid Getting Hooked by Phishing Scams - If It Seems Wrong, It Probably Is

Our gut instinct can often accurately judge when something is amiss, even if we can't put our finger on why. Learning to trust those feelings of unease instead of ignoring them is one of the most reliable ways to detect and avoid phishing traps. If a message just seems "off" or fake, it likely is.

Samantha Chen recalls feeling hesitant the moment she received an email claiming to be from her bank's security team. It said they had noticed suspicious activity and needed her to verify some information. The email looked professional, yet something about it made Samantha uncomfortable. However, not wanting to be unresponsive if it was real, she clicked the link provided against her better judgement. Only after entering her login credentials on the fake site that loaded did Samantha realize she should have listened to her initial doubts.

"Some part of me knew that email was fishy," she admits. "But I convinced myself a real bank message would sound similar. I learned the hard way to trust my instincts - if it seems questionable, it's better to be safe than sorry." She now forwards suspicious messages to her bank instead of clicking links, letting them confirm legitimacy first.

Martin Wu describes a strong sense of unease when receiving a text claiming to be from a popular parcel delivery company. The message said they were unable to deliver a package and needed Wu to click a link to reschedule the attempt. Though he was expecting an order, the strange number and typos in the text made him skeptical. Still, Wu considered following the link just in case it was real. But remembering past warnings, he went with his gut and called the delivery company directly. The agent confirmed it was a phishing scam designed to steal personal information.

"I'm so glad I didn't ignore that feeling something was off," says Wu. "The website looked convincing, but I've learned phishers prey on people who override their doubts." Wu warns others toavoid rationalizing suspicious messages. "Ask yourself - if this makes me uncomfortable, is it worth the risk?" He forwards questionable texts to 7726, a number mobile providers use to report spam.

Lisa Cheng's unease about a job recruiter's email led her to avoid a devastating financial scam. The message offered Cheng a virtual assistant position with an unusually high salary for simple admin tasks. Though tempted by the pay, aspects of the email seemed strange, like the overeager tone. Cheng almost replied anyway in case it was legitimate but stopped short. She instead researched the supposed company, quickly finding warnings they were scammers planning to send fake checks for Cheng to cash, leaving her liable while they pocketed the money.

Get amazing AI audio voiceovers made for long-form content such as podcasts, presentations and social media. (Get started for free)

More Posts from