Check it out: Everything is a little easier when you have a list of steps to help you accomplish your objective. Here are some things you can do.

Take a breath before you act

Hold off acting on “urgent” messages.
Before you respond to a call or email demanding your attention about an urgent situation, take a breath instead of giving in to the instinct to act.

Don’t respond to any email requests for personal or financial information.
Financial institutions as a practice don’t ask you to provide sensitive information, such as your Social Security Number or account numbers, in response to emails.

Think before you click.
Emails “phishing” for your data often include infected attachments or links to fake websites. Verify the sender is valid before clicking.

Look out for these tells

Watch out for emails with “invoice” in the subject line.
The word “Invoice” appears in the subject of 6 of the 10 most effective phishing campaigns in 2018, Cofense Intelligence reported in its State of Phishing Defense 2018 study.

Look for typos.
While less a tell than in the past, some phishing emails and fake websites still have grammar and spelling errors, as well as missing trademark and copyright marks.

Be wary of offers that are “too good to be true.”
If you’ve learned by email that someone in Tasmania will give you a share of the $5 million settlement if you front $100 or that you’ll receive a an inheritance from your great-aunt Martha (who you never knew you had) as soon as you provide your Social Security Number, just pass.

Use the web wisely

Use your web browser pop-up blocker.
Hold off automatic pop-ups of malware that can divert a legitimate website visit to a fake one that simply looks good.

Look for the HTTPS lock.
Legitimate websites use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt data before it’s transmitted across the web. The secure areas, where you might provide your sensitive information, are marked with a lock icon, which generally appears next to the website address, also called a uniform resource locator or more commonly a URL. If you double-click on the icon, you’ll also see details about the site’s security.

Reach the right place

Call the number on your account statement or credit card.
Rather than call a phone number provided in an email (or given to you by a caller you don’t know), use one from a source you trust.

To learn about the professional background, business practices, and conduct of FINRA member firms or their financial professionals, visit FINRA’s BrokerCheck website: http://brokercheck.finra.org/