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How Not to Get Hooked By a "Phishing" Scam
SCAMS: SPECIAL INVESTIGATION SERIES

By Dean Phillips
Monday, November 22, 2004; 7:50pm EST


First of all, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, "Phishing" is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information.

Phishers send an e-mail or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you deal with--for example, your Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message usually says that you need to "update" or "validate" your account information.

It might even threaten some dire consequence if you don't respond. The message directs you to a website that looks exactly like a legitimate organization's site, but it's not. The purpose of the bogus site is to trick you into divulging your personal information so the fraudsters can steal your identity and your money and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.

Recent phishing victims include Yahoo, Citibank, eBay, Best Buy and Bank of America among others.

The Federal Trade Commission, (FTC) the nation's consumer protection agency, suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:

If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the e-mail using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct web address. DO NOT click on the link in the e-mail message.

Don't e-mail personal or financial information. E-mail is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure").

Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.

Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. 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.

Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Some phishing e-mails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files.

Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.

I personally use Norton AntiVirus and have never had any virus problems whatsoever.

A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It's especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection.

If you haven't already done so, I highly recommend installing Microsoft's Service Pack 2. SP2 tightens your PC's security with a new Windows Firewall, an improved Automatic Updates feature, and a pop-up ad blocker for Internet Explorer. Plus, the newly minted Security Center gives you one easy-to-use interface for keeping tabs on your PC's security apps.

In addition, be extra careful about opening any attachment or downloading any files from e-mails you receive, regardless of who sent them.

Report suspicious activity to the FTC. If you get spam that is phishing for information, forward it to spam@uce.gov.

If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at:

http://www.ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft website at:

http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft, to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft.





About the Author
Dean Phillips is an Internet marketing expert, writer,
publisher and entrepreneur. Questions? Comments? Dean can be
reached at mailto: dean@lets-make-money.net

Make Money Online! Internet marketing expert, Dean Phillips
will teach you how to make money online, starting
today...Guaranteed! For details just visit my website.

Website: http://www.lets-make-money.net


 

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