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How to Get Through April Fool's Day Without Falling for Phishing Scams

While harmless pranks abound, so do phishing scams, which pose a real threat to your security
Thursday, March 14, 2024

For some, April Fool’s Day (April 1) is a fun day of harmless jokes and “gotcha” moments.

While the spirit of April Fool's is rooted in lighthearted jests and good-natured humor, not all pranks are harmless. Some of the most prolific pranksters? Cybercriminals, who unleash their own brand of trickery through phishing scams via emails, texts, voicemails, and calls. 

Phishing scammers trick unsuspecting individuals into divulging sensitive information, losing money, or falling prey to other fraudulent schemes. The damage can be devastating for those who are caught in phishing nets.

And our Stanford community is certainly not immune to these types of traps.

So here are some practical steps to help you stay safe and not be fooled:

#1: Always verify the source

Check the sender's contact details for any irregularities and avoid taking any action (including clicking on links or attachments) if you can’t verify the source. Be extra suspicious of messages requesting personal information or offering surprisingly good deals. 

April Fool's jokes and other scams can also spread rapidly on social media platforms, so before engaging with any content, ensure it comes from a trusted source. 

# 2: Keep software and systems updated

Maintain regular updates for your computer and phone to bolster security against potential vulnerabilities. This simple step can deter hackers from exploiting weaknesses in your software.

#3: Use trusted security tools

Stanford offers many top security tools and platforms to help you stay safe, including:

It's better to err on the side of caution. If something feels off, take a moment to reassess before proceeding. Don't hesitate to seek clarification or assistance if needed. 

That’s how we can outsmart the tricksters and safeguard ourselves against phishing pitfalls, while still appreciating the joy and silliness of April Fool's. 

Stay safe, and don’t be fooled!

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