Phishing, pronounced the way it looks, is when a thief or scam artist tries to obtain your personal, sensitive information. For example, bank account numbers, credit cards, social security numbers, passwords, or anything else that only you are supposed to know. They have very clever ways of deceiving victims into thinking they are a legitimate source and therefore getting you to divulge your private statistics.
It can come in the form of an email saying they are your bank, typically requesting you resend your password and account numbers. Another technique is sending confirmation that your information is correct, including your ATM PIN and card number, or credit card numbers with the code that’s normally on the back, along with the expiration date and the full name on the card.
What they are really doing is just collecting your data, to steal from you. There are many ways they can steal. Use your Social Security Number to open credit card accounts, use your ATM plus PIN to withdraw money from your account, or transfer money into different accounts. The possibilities are quite alarming.
The emails they send usually look totally legitimate, and even have links that appear to use the bank’s URL as the link to click on. However, when you actually look at the properties of the link, it is an IP address that is not the official site. Instead, it points to the fraudulent site where they try to get you to input your private information into the hands of the enemy.
To make these phishing e-mail messages look even more legitimate, the scam artists may place a link in them that appears to go to the legitimate Web site (1), but it actually takes you to a phony scam site (2) or possibly a pop-up window that looks exactly like the official site. These copycat sites are also called “spoofed” Web sites. Once you’re at one of these spoofed sites, you might unwittingly send personal information to the con artists. They then often use your information to purchase goods, apply for a new credit card, or otherwise steal your identity.
This has scared many people into not doing business online. With the increase of pop ups and spyware invading our machines, there probably is a large portion of the population that prefer to do business the old fashion way, in person, with cash, checks and credit cards in hand.
Tips on how to avoid these types of attacks.
- Instead of clicking on links to your accounts through emails, go directly to the official site and log-on.
- Banks, websites, etc, usually never contact you requesting your password, account numbers, or private information through emails.
- If it seems fishy, it probably is. Use your good judgment and common sense. Nothing is free.
- Keep regular tabs on your bank accounts outside of the internet, and double check validity of transactions.
- Avoid wire transactions whenever possible. Be sure the payment clears prior to shipment of items, especially if they are wiring money directly into your bank account. And still, avoid wire transactions whenever possible.
- Tell your loved ones not to fall for the dirty tricks.
- Trust NO ONE.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad people out there doing bad stuff – hopefully the above tips will help you avoid anything phishy.