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PHISHING, THE DIRTY DOZEN

PHISHING SCAMS- 12 WAYS TO STOP THEM

Phishing- Ah, the seductive "lures" of the Internet, sometimes even the smartest of us can fall victim to them. Have you been phished by a phishing lure? Have you accidentally or unknowingly revealed your banking, credit card or other account information to someone running a phishing scam?

Not sure? Read on. You'll find out if you have been phished.

How do you protect yourself from such criminal activities? I am glad you asked because I am going to tell you.

First, let's define Phishing. The word Phishing comes from the analogy that Internet Scammers will use Email lures to fish for passwords and financial data from the sea of Internet Users. The letters "Ph" is a common hacker replacement for the letter "f".

Phishing might take the form of the following typical phisher messages:

  • “We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account.
    To ensure that your account is not compromised,
    please click the link below and confirm your identity.”

  • “During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn't’ verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information.”

Like the examples above, some common phishing scams involve e-mails that purport to be from a financial institution, credit card company, Internet Service Provider, or other trusted company claiming that a person’s record has been lost. The phishing email directs the person to a website that mimics the legitimate business’ website and asks the person to enter a credit card number and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII) so the record can be restored.

PHISHING- 12 WAYS TO STOP THE BAD GUYS

Take heed to the following 12 defenses against phishing:

1. Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal financial information. Do not respond to it. Phishers typically ask for information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers and the like. Phisher emails are typically NOT personalized, while valid messages from your bank or e-commerce company generally are.

2. Don't use the links in an email to get to any web page, if you suspect the message might not be authentic. Instead, call the company on the telephone, or log onto the website directly by typing in the Web address in your browser. Don’t cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser — phishers can make links look like they go to one place, but that actually send you to a different site.

3. Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal financial information. Phishers make very good fake forms. You should only communicate information such as credit card numbers or account information via a secure website or the telephone.

4. Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons like the lock icon on an order form.

5. Always ensure that you're using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your Web browser. To make sure you're on a secure Web server, check the beginning of the Web address in your browsers address bar - it should be "https://" rather than just "http://".

6. Use the internet to shop for an item. Then telephone your order to the vendor rather than using the so-called secure order form. If there is no way to telephone in the order then check out item 5 above as one way the prevent phishing.

7. Consider installing a Web browser tool bar or anti-phishing software to help protect you from known phishing fraud websites. Perform a search engine search on "anti-phishing software" to find a product.

8. Regularly check your bank, credit and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate. If anything is suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances. Don't give phishers the time to exploit your PII.

9. Regularly log into your online accounts. Check each account every 29 days or less.

10. Ensure that your browser is up to date and security patches applied. In particular, people who use the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser should immediately go to the Microsoft Security home page -- http://www.microsoft.com/security/ -- to download a special patch relating to certain phishing schemes.

11. Use anti-virus (check out our series on anti-virus software) and anti-spyware (read our article on the Spyware Killer) software and a two-way firewall, and keep them up to date. Some phishing emails contain spyware that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge.

12. If you believe you’ve been the victim of a phishing scam, file your complaint at Federal Trade Commission's website ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC’s Identity Theft website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft. While you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk.

If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these new accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You may catch an incident early if you order a free copy of your credit report periodically from any of the three major credit bureaus. See www.annualcreditreport.com for details on ordering a free annual credit report.

PHISHING BONUS STOPPER

Bonus Tip: Other proactive steps against phishing include the following:

  • Report "phishing" or “spoofed” e-mails to reportphishing@antiphishing.com
  • forward the email to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov
  • forward the email to the "abuse" email address at the company that is being spoofed (e.g. "spoof@ebay.com")
  • when forwarding spoofed messages, always include the entire original email with its original header information intact
  • notify the Internet Fraud Complaint Center of the FBI by filing a complaint on their website: www.ifccfbi.gov/.

Well, there you have 12 ways plus a bonus tip to stop Phishing. For more information on Phishing, read our article, PHISHING|IDENTITY THEFT.

Phishing is a very dangerous crime that can cause your bank accounts to be emptied, your identity stolen or your credit cards maxed out.

Are the Phish or Phisher? Have you been phishing?

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