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The digital age brings with it convenience but also challenges. One of the most difficult and increasingly common challenges is phishing attempts. Phishing stands as a testament to the ever-evolving landscape of online threats that seek to exploit the trust and goodwill that bind us together. As we navigate these digital waters, it is crucial that we equip ourselves with the knowledge to protect ourselves.

Below are two fictional stories of Maggie and Marcus, who were victims of phishing.  Let’s see what we can learn from their experiences.

Maggie’s Story

Maggie, who works at a local church, is navigating a hectic day filled with consecutive meetings. While sifting through her emails on her smartphone, she notices a message from the “Employee Portal,” urging her to immediately verify her working hours.

Upon clicking the provided link, Maggie lands on a webpage that strikingly resembles the church login page. However, she finds the form’s response to her input oddly different from what she’s accustomed to. After entering her credentials, Maggie is rerouted to an unfamiliar webpage…

Please consider these questions for yourself before expanding the sections. 

Marcus’s Story

Marcus is a new member at St. Swithin’s Church. He receives a message that appears to come from the rector, suggesting his attendance at a newcomer’s event…

Upon clicking the “Register” link, he is redirected to a “page not found” notice on an unfamiliar website. Unbeknownst to Marcus, that click led to the installation of a keylogging malware application on his computer. Later, he used this compromised computer to conduct some online shopping transactions.

Please consider these questions for yourself before expanding the sections. 

What Do I Do If I’ve Been Phished?

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of phishing, immediate action is crucial to minimize potential damage. Start by changing the passwords for all accounts you believe may have been compromised during the phishing attack, especially those involving sensitive information like email, banking, and social media accounts. It’s important to use strong, unique passwords for each account to prevent cross-account breaches. If possible, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for an added layer of security. Additionally, alert your financial institutions and credit card companies about the breach to monitor for any unauthorized transactions and, if necessary, replace your cards.

Next, report the phishing attempt to the relevant authorities to help prevent further scams. This includes notifying your organization’s IT department if the phishing attack was work-related, as well as reporting to national anti-fraud and cybersecurity agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These reports can aid in tracking down the scammers and potentially stopping them from harming others.

Always run a full antivirus scan on your computer to detect and remove any malware that might have been installed. Stay vigilant for any signs of identity theft or fraud by regularly checking your credit reports and account statements.

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