A woman sits and smiles as she looks down at her laptop screen.

Protect Yourself Against Cybercriminals

Last Updated: August 30, 2023
2 min read

Key points about: protection against cyberattacks

  1. Cybercriminals may try to access sensitive information, like your bank info, using email or text phishing scams, quizzes on social media, or pop-up ads.

  2. If the sender of an email or text looks suspicious, don’t click the link or download any attachments.

  3. Discover offers Identity Theft Protection that may help protect your personal information online.

Cyberattacks can come from many places, like through text messages on your phone, fake social media accounts, or fraudulent emails. These cybercriminals may be looking for ways to gain access to sensitive accounts, such as your credit card information. But you can better prepare yourself by understanding how to protect yourself from cyberattacks, and how tools like Discover®Identity Theft Protection can help.

What is phishing?

Cybercriminals use phishing (among other techniques) to con individuals into revealing sensitive information or install malware on their computers. With ever-more sophisticated phishing techniques, it’s no wonder identity theft is on the rise. But, there are several easy steps you can take to protect your personal information.

Protect yourself from email scams

Ever open an email from a familiar company that looks suspicious? Maybe it’s full of typos or the email domain doesn’t match the supposed sender. Details like this are good reasons to think twice about clicking any links in the email.

As the California Department of Justice warns, even though an email may claim to be from a reputable organization, “scam artists ‘phish’ for victims by pretending to be banks, stores or government agencies.” Responding to emails like this, or downloading their attachments, could put you at risk for identity theft. When in doubt, delete.

Identity theft scams on social media

You may have taken online quizzes about what animal you would want to be or what 80s band best represents your personality.  Many of these seemingly harmless quizzes on social media are used by hackers. By answering quiz questions like, “What’s the first concert you attended?” and “What was your first pet’s name?” you could be giving cybercriminals clues to your passwords and security question answers.

So, no matter how much you want to know if you’re a unicorn or a dragon, Journey or Aerosmith, don’t click and definitely don’t share.

Protect against pop-up cyberattacks

When browsing the internet, have you ever seen a pop-up window like this: “Warning! Your Computer is Infected! Click Here to Download Anti-Malware!”

In a moment of panic, you might be tempted to click and download the anti-malware thinking it’ll help. But often these programs are Trojan horses that could give cybercriminals access to your hard drive or banking information, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Smishing (SMS phishing) is equally dangerous with scammers sending texts like “Call Now to Reactivate Your Credit Card,” or “Text Back to Receive Your Free Gaming System,” when the real intent is to gather bank, credit card, and debit card information. 

So be wary of unknown callers and texters. If you’re unsure, a quick internet search of the phone number may reveal some information about whoever is contacting you.

What can you do?

According to FTC, the most important step is to stay vigilant and think twice before sharing information on the internet or over the phone. But cybercriminals can catch even the most careful consumers off guard. In these cases, an identity theft protection product can help provide you with tools to help you protect yourself.

Did you know?

Discover offers a way to help you protect your information. Discover Identity Theft Protection includes benefits such as: bank account alerts–if a bank account in your name opens or updates at any one of thousands of financial institutions we monitor every day; and Social Security number identity alerts–if your SSN is used to create a new identity at Experian®, all with 100% U.S.-based Fraud Resolution Specialists and up to $1MM identity theft insurance–for legal expenses, reimbursement of stolen funds, lost wages and more covered expenses.1

Next steps

You may also be interested in

Share article

Was this article helpful?

Glad you found this useful. Could you let us know what you found helpful?
Sorry this article didn't help you. Can you give us feedback why?

Was this article helpful?

Thank you for your feedback

  1. Identity Theft Protection: Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions, and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

    This product can only be agreed upon, purchased and delivered online. It is optional and voluntary.

  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.