Monday, July 19, 2010

How to Protect Against Phishing Scams and Fraudulent Email?

Phishing scams and fraudulent or "fake" emails are designed for identity theft by internet scam artists. A 'phishing' email is one that pretends to be from a company or bank like eBay, PayPal, WAMU, Suntrust etc, and which asks you to enter your account data, such as login details. These scams are often supported by fake spoof websites, and victims are tricked into thinking they are logging to a real website. Phishing is a form of identity theft, where fraudsters steal your identity and personal information to gain access to your accounts or commit other crimes using your persona. These scams can be found everywhere on the Internet ranging from commercial websites, social networking sites and even your email account. Follow the steps below to learn how you can protect against phishing scams and fraudulent emails.
  • Limit the information you post on social networking sites. Scammers surf these websites to locate personal information such as email addresses, habits, location and other data. Fraudulent emails are then created based on this information asking for additional personal information, credit card numbers or emails containing links to scam websites.
  • Delete emails sent from unknown internet addresses even if they appear to come from legitimate sources. This is especially true if they contain time limits or relay a sense of urgency. These are attempts to convince you there is something wrong with your banking or other financial accounts so you will email your personal information or link to a phishing website where you will enter your information. Also unknown emails can release viruses, Trojans, and spyware onto your computer that can collect additional personal information and send it to the scammer.
  • Check the links in every email you read before you click on them. When you place your cursor over a link an additional link appears in the bottom lower left bar on your screen. Compare the two link addresses, and if they do not match exactly do not click on the link. Phishing scams usually start with fraudulent emails with fake email links meant to direct you to the scam site.
  • Update your anti-virus, spyware, firewall and anti-spam programs on a regular basis and perform routine scans of your PC or laptop. This should prevent most phishing scams and fake emails from ever reaching your computer.



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