Best practices to identify and avoid social engineering scams

A guide to help make sure your curiosity isn’t used against you online.​


A prominent retail company's payment system was compromised during the peak holiday shopping season thanks to a fraudulent phishing email, exposing the personal data of close to 70 million customers. Since that occurrence, social engineering attacks in particular have increased in regularity, posing a significant risk to both individuals and corporations in terms of risk management.

Anyone who spends any time online, whether it be for social networking, shopping, paying bills, or just checking email, could become a target of a cyberattack. Cybercriminals are employing increasingly complex schemes to trick people into disclosing private and confidential information.

These scams include posting false links to popular websites or sending emails from reputable people or businesses that contain false links or attachments that contain malware. In order for the cybercriminals to acquire access to your computer and accounts for their own gain and financial gain, they need your personal information, which you are expected to provide them by falling for these scams.

A basic understanding of the strategies utilized in social engineering scams will help you keep your personal information private.

It's crucial to stay informed on the different risks that are now prominent and the additional precautions you may take to avoid them because even the most security-savvy computer users can fall victim to social engineering schemes.

Protect yourself from the common social engineering scams


This strategy entails using a phony email to persuade the recipient to open a dangerous attachment or go to a dangerous website. Because it still works, phishing has been around for a while and is a popular deception for hackers.

In order to gain your trust and persuade you to comply with the email's instructions, such as disclosing sensitive information, cybercriminals may pose as representatives of well-known, reputable companies, including financial institutions, government agencies, or well-known social media platforms or file sharing websites.

Through the use of "spearphishing," which personalizes an email to make it look to be from a known person or organization, this specific assault has continued to develop. Other strategies include "whaling," a spearphishing attack that targets high-profile people and corporate executives.

The goal of the bulk of phishing attempts is to get the victim to divulge sensitive data, such as passwords, bank account numbers, or even business information.

Protect yourself:

  • Never reply to emails asking for personal information, and always delete emails you do not recognize before opening them.

  • Never open attachments or click on embedded websites in emails that seem fake or suspicious.

  • You should get in touch with the company you do business with directly if an email purporting to be from them is received.

  • Never divulge passwords, login details, or any other form of authentication.

  • Always use a personal firewall, an anti-virus program, and a spam filter.


A social engineering attack of this nature entices you with the promise of something amazing. Popular baiting strategies include offers for gift cards, free smartphones, or even a portion of a lottery winner's earnings.

The most skilled hackers may create customized baits that may be extremely targeted to you using data obtained from corporate websites, job search websites, social networking websites, and online newsletters. This tactic depends on your curiosity in the hopes that you would be intrigued by an offer to the point where you will hand over your login information to a certain website.

Additionally, be on the lookout for shady, unverifiable phone calls purporting to be from banks or other organizations. If in doubt, give them a call at a well-known, publicized number. Along with Internet frauds, other methods of baiting include phone calls and SMS messages.

Protect yourself:

  • Verify everything in cybersecurity before you trust it.

  • Even if it's on a friend's webpage, don't believe everything you read. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Social Media

Social media is a tool that hackers use to propagate malware and lure users into making mistakes in addition to gathering information about their victims.

Cybercriminals can transmit malware designed to gather data from computers and other devices by sending messages with shortened, unverifiable URLs or by creating phony films and websites that are customized to trendy subjects and current events.

Protect yourself:

  • Be careful what you click and what you say. 

  • Regularly check your social networking site privacy settings to make sure they are at the highest level you are comfortable with.

  • Never divulge private information, such as your mother's maiden name or your birth date, that could be the solution to your security question.

  • If a link in a post seems strange, even if it looks to be from a friend, never click on it because your friend's account might have been hacked.

  • Never accept connection requests from strangers because they can be trying to find out when you are taking a trip or going to be gone for a long time.

Educate Yourself

Cybercriminals are attempting to use you and others by exploiting your own internet presence. To lessen your probability of falling victim to a cyberattack, you should always be on the lookout for social engineering techniques. Educate yourself, your friends, and the people you love because knowledge is power. For all of us, stopping cybercriminals from achieving their next success will be a win.




For more information on optimizing your IT and securing your network, contact RCS Professional Services to speak with an IT professional or visit our website

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