It actually happened to you. You’ve always been careful about what links you clicked on, only downloading things from trusted sources, but somehow, you fell for a phishing scam. What do you do now?
1. Don’t Panic.
Stay calm. Disconnect from your Internet connection, turn off your wifi. Doing this immediately will limit the chances of any malware being installed or any other parties gaining access to your computer. Make note of the URL you clicked on, or get a screenshot of the site or the email, and make sure you know what information you entered.
2. Change Your Passwords, Scan for Viruses
Your first line of defense on any account is your password. If any of your information has been compromised, change those passwords and make sure you’re not using the same password for multiple accounts (if any one of those accounts is compromised, all accounts that share that password are in danger). Once your passwords are secure, run an extra deep virus and malware scan on your computer to make sure that there’s nothing lurking there.
3. Tell the Right People
While your scan is running, get in touch with whatever organization was used to get to your information, whether it was your bank, your email provider, your employer, utility company, etc. A phone call is best for this. Explain what happened and that you’ve changed your password, and ask about anything else you might need to do to safeguard your account and information. Your bank might want to issue a new debit or credit card, an employer might need to scan their internal network or let other employees know to keep away from work emails for a time.
Those are the concrete steps you should take as soon as you realize you’ve been caught in a scam. In the space of a few minutes to an hour, you’ve done a lot to mitigate any possible damage! Over the next few weeks, look at your credit reports from all three credit agencies, and be ready to put a freeze on your credit if any fraud appears.
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