Protect Yourself from Phishing Scams
Phishing, it sounds harmless but in reality it is a scam operating at a personal level; swindlers send you pop up messages or spam, which seem harmless and trustworthy enough, that ask for personal information – bank account numbers, social security number, passwords and other private information. The messages appear to come from respectable corporations such as banking institutions or credit card companies. But in reality it’s all a fraud.
The messages that they send ask you to update, validate or confirm sensitive information and sometimes warn you that if you don’t comply dreadful consequences will soon follow. Don’t be bullied. Also, many phishing messages contain a website that you’re supposed to visit, and it too looks reputable. It is on the website that you divulge the information and once you do that, they’ve got you. Then the problems start to occur — identity theft, charges on your credit card and other financially devastating events.
There are ways to avoid phishing scams. Don’t be the next victim; follow these easy tips and send the phishing criminals packing.
- Never divulge personal or financial information in email form, especially if you don’t know who is emailing you. If you are confused, contact the company but don’t use the information given to you on the website. Use statements that you have. For example, if they are pretending to be your credit card company use the information on your credit card statement and ask pertinent questions, or visit the place of business if possible, like your local bank. If you are suspicious then don’t send any information and delete the message.
- Carefully scrutinize the website’s URL. It may “seem” to come from a legitimate company but many scam artists modify the address or domain – something as simple as changing the address from .net to .com. You have to be on the alert.
- If a scammer asks you to call a certain number and it seems legitimate don’t be fooled. Call the company that they are pretending to be – again, get out your statements and call the company you do business with and ask them if they are sending you emails.
- Utilize anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Some phishing emails contain devious software systems that can secretly track your activities on the internet. You should have anti-virus and anti-spyware software to begin with; no computer is safe without this technology.
- Avoid opening any attachments or downloading files from email. Some may contain viruses or software that will damage your computer. Be extremely cautious, even if they are coming from a friend.
- If you believe you are receiving phishing emails, send them to [email protected]. Also send them to the company that they are posing as so they understand what’s going on.
- If you think that you’ve been scammed contact the Federal Trade commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint. But remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t freely make your private information available to anyone who sends you an email or popup. A reputable company or organization won’t do that – so get ready to delete.