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How to Protect Yourself Against Phishing Attacks

June 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Along with the advance of technology and a more sophisticated Internet also comes new and creative ways for Internet fraudsters to refine their methods of “phishing” for personal information.

What is Phishing?

“Phishing” refers to methods used by scam artists to acquire sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card information, personal banking information, usernames, and passwords. First coined in 1996, the word “phishing” is a variant of “fishing” and refers to obtaining various sensitive information using some sort of bait.

How It Is Done

One of the most common ways that crafty con artists bait internet users is with a phony e-mail. They send out a message mimicking a bank or credit card company that contains a request to verify a password, account number or other financial information, along with a link to a fake website that looks just like the real one, but which will send your information to the scammers instead.

What You Can Do to Prevent “Phishing”

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to avoid this type of situation.

– Never open a link from an e-mail. Legitimate companies do not ask for sensitive personal information by e-mail. If you suspect that there might really be a problem with your account, contact the company by phone.

– Make sure you utilize and regularly update anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software in order to protect your computer. Many “phishing” e-mails contain software that tracks your online activity or cause damage to your computer.

– Any e-mail asking you to validate or confirm sensitive information like a social security number or bank account should be regarded as suspicious. You should go to the site in question yourself,  by typing the address manually and ensure you are on a secure connection (HTTPS), then see if there are any new messages in your account’s inbox (most banks and companies requiring this kind of information keep their own mail system).

By becoming a wary internet user, you could be protecting yourself from a potential predator, and ultimately, identity theft.

 

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