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Sunday, February 10, 2008

How To Protect Yourself From Phishing

Protect yourself from Phishing scams that could lead to identity theft. I cannot stress this enough. Phishing scams are a hot topic lately that have grown with the popularity of online banking and social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and Friendster.

The term Phishing comes from the analogy to fishing. The phisher uses a bait to lure victims into giving out personal information like passwords and credit card numbers. The bait is typically and urgent plea from one of the victims friends or trusted websites, asking for information to resolve some sort of problem with their account.

One of the popular Myspace phishing scams uses a domain name of which shows up in the browser address bar as, very similar to myspace. The site is designed to look very similar to myspace and tells you that you need to log in. You need to be very careful to check the address in the web browser whenever you are asked for login information or personal financial information.

Other typical targets for phishing include online banking sites, paypal, the internal revenue service and credit card companies. Internet users must be vigilant and always double check to make sure that the site you are giving your information to is actually the site you trust.

Phishing scams have a snowball effect. One the phisher has your login information it is very easy to contact your friends, pretending to be you, and get their information as well.

Anti-phishing software is a must for anyone that accesses the internet. Most of the internet service providers have some safety measures included as part of their online security software. Most web browsers also have add-ons that can detect most phishing scams. Unfortunately, these measures are not enough. Some of the more clever phishers have found ways to trick the anti-phishing software so you need to be cautious of suspicious emails and messages.

Phishing scams are not limited to the internet. Some phishers use the telephone to make requests for information. If you get a call from your banking institution asking for personal information, hang up and call your bank directly. Your bank will have your social security number and account information on file and should only ask you to verify a few digits.

If you feel that you have been targeted by a phishing scam it is very important that you report it to the company that the phisher is pretending to be. If you receive an email that you believe to be a phishing scam you should forward it to the FTC: "" so that others will not fall prey to these attacks.

You could also Phire back on Phishers by sending back false information that they will waste time actually trying to use.

Hobbyist writer/web developer. See more at

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