What is Phishing and How to Safeguard Against It
Every time you open an email you may be subject to a phishing attack. If you are
not wary you could find yourself facing months and maybe even years of trying to
recover from such a scam. Do you know what is phishing and how to safeguard
yourself and your family against it?
Essentially, phishing is a criminal act where scammers, sometimes called
phishers, try to get your confidential personal information in a fraudulent
manner. In most cases today, this is done through a phishing email. Upon opening
a phishing email, which you will believe came from an authentic source such as
your bank or eBay or Paypal, you will be directed to a website to confirm or
update your personal information. These emails will look real as they will have
the company logo and several other officious looking facets such as authentic
company names and email addresses.
Usually there will be some verbiage which indicates much urgency in clicking
through on the link provided. This can be done by indicating that your account
may have been compromised already and you must take action or that if you do not
update your information right away, that your account will be closed or
suspended. Usually being given deadlines in such emails is an indication that
this is indeed a phishing email.
Within the email, you are directed to what you think is the company website by a
link which may look very real. However, you may find you have been sent to an
url which is a .org or .net instead of the company's actual .com url address or
that it is an url that is one letter off the real domain name. There may also
have been some type of redirect that sends you to a totally different url
although the site you appear at may look exactly like the site you expect to
see. This is why it is important to watch your browser's bars and to look for
the httpS:// in the url address. I capitalized the 's' to make it stand out.
That is one thing you should be looking for.
The phisher can be hoping to collect all types of different information from
you, not the least of which is your username and password. With these they can
get into your real accounts. Further information, that is gravy, they may try to
obtain can include your full name, address, social security number, and credit
card or bank numbers.
With this information, these scammers have a much easier time committing
identity theft. You may find your bank account cleaned out, credit cards maxed
out, new credit cards taken out in your name and even bank loans taken out in
your name which you don't even learn about until they become overdue. Who knows
what other fraudulent acts they can commit with your personal financial details?
So how do you safeguard against phishing and the potential resultant identity
theft? First off, if the email addresses you as "Dear Customer" or some other
salutation other than your name, that can be one possible clue. After all your
bank or credit card company knows your name. Secondly, any email that imposes a
deadline and a sense of urgency is suspect and should be treated with caution.