What is phishing?

“Phishing” is a form of Internet fraud. It aims to obtain a users personal information such as credit cards, social security numbers, user IDs and passwords. Such information can be used for identity theft.

How does it happen?
Phishing can be carried out in person, over the phone, through spam e-mail or popup windows. The most common form of Internet phishing is from sending fake emails (Email Spoofing) which can appear to be from a legitimate source and requesting information (such as a bank account number and password), or it could direct the victim to a fake website that will request similar personal information, which could be easily captured by the “phisher.”

What should I do?
To avoid getting caught, never respond to suspicious looking emails that request personal information. Never submit personal information to websites that are not secure. When you are at a legitimate secure site, such as a banking site, when you go to log into your account you will sometimes be alerted that you are entering a secure site, and while on a secure site you will see a lock icon in the address bar.

If you think you may have been phished, you will want to change your passwords and alert any company with whom you have a financial account. Watch your statements for any charges that you did not make and report anything you find.

It is VERY easy to get caught by a phisher if you are not careful. Please use caution whenever you are using your personal information. Never give out your personal information when you do not know for sure who you are giving it to. Double check and verify any requests for information. Call the company that is requesting it, and make sure you have the official number from the official site, and don’t call numbers provided in an email as these could be fraudulent as well.

One of my friends was sent an email that was supposedly from Ebay or PayPal saying that they lost their account and needed information from them to help find it. It asked for their email addresses and passwords, bank account numbers, user ID’s and Passwords for Ebay and PayPal, their Social Security Number, as well as a few other things. Unfortunately they did not think to check with PayPal or Ebay to see if they were legitimate emails and they responded providing a lot of personal data.

When they told me of this, I had them contact the companies that they had supposedly received these emails from and they found that the emails were not legitimate but were indeed phishing scams. They quickly notified the companies and forwarded the emails to them and changed their account passwords. So far, they seem to be fine, but getting caught by phishing scams can lead to fraudulent use of accounts, credit cards, bank withdraws, or even stolen identity.

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