Avoid Being a Victim of a Phishing Scam

Every time we open our email, there is usually some type of SPAM email sitting in our Junk folder. And most of time, we delete it without even reading, but every once in awhile those emails get opened, a link gets clicked, and the tech savvy con artist on the other end laughs his way to the bank. Phishing is a method of online identity theft, set up to steal your personal and financial information. It is another variation of "fishing", casting out the bait and hoping that a few will bite, even if the majority will ignore the lure.

Phishing is most often associated with email spoofs, mimics of emails from banks, credit card companies, and other businesses like Amazon, eBay, or PayPal. The messages look authentic and will attempt to get your personal information. For example, you might see an email from a credit card company that reads, “We suspect unauthorized transactions on your account. To ensure your account is not compromised, please click the link to confirm your identity.” Or you might read something along the lines of your account is about to be closed, your information has been lost due to a computer glitch, or an order for something has been placed in your name.

First of all, never click on the link! Fraudsters will use these links to lure unsuspecting victims to phony web sites that look legitimate and very close to the actual company or organization that they are impersonating. If you follow the instructions and enter all your personal information, you deliver it right into the hands of identity thieves. And second, emails may contain links that are infected with malware, another form of attack on your PC. A legitimate business would never ask for sensitive information over insecure channels, as they already have it in their system, so delete these types of emails!

Phishing can also be done over the phone, so it is wise to be alert. You may get a call from someone pretending to be from a business or government agency, making false claims as in an email spoof and asking for personal information. If you do get a call and it sounds suspicious, ask for the persons's name, the name of the agency or company, telephone number, and address. Tell that person you will look up the main number, call, and verify if that person is legitimate.

Avoid Being a Victim of a Phishing Scam

There are steps you can take to be wise to a phishing scam. First, use trusted security software and have it update automatically. Second, never email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transporting personal information. Third, when entering personal information online to a legitimate business, check to make sure the site is secure, like a URL that begins with https. It’s also a good idea to regularly review bank and credit card statements and check to make sure no unauthorized transactions have been made. And always be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails. A good rule of thumb is to only open attachments if you are expecting them and know what they contain. When in doubt, use that delete key.

Fraudsters are out there, but if you use a little common sense and a bit of caution, you can avoid the unhappy results of their phishing bait and be left unharmed.