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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Be Aware Of Phishing Scams

If you surf the web, purchase products over the web or use the many financial services offered by your credit card company, bank and even Paypal and Ebay, then you should be aware of Phishing scams and how they can affect you personally.
Phishing scams are when hackers or criminals masquerade as a legitimate entities in order to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc to commit fraud. Phishing scams are numerous on the web and can affect almost anyone. Here are some tips to easily spot phishing scams and what to do if you think your information has been compromised.
How to Spot Phishing Scams
A vast majority of phishing scams come in the form of email. Emails are sent to possibly millions of people stating that they are from a legitimate entity such as American Express, Chase Bank, Ebay, Paypal, etc. The email itself looks very convincing (in fact, it is usually an exact copy of official emails sent). Within the email it will usually state that your account information is not up to date and not updating this information could jeopardize your account. It will usually give you a hyperlink to click on to update your account information which will usually ask you for your full name, address, social security number and account number. Once you have given all your sensitive information to this web site, the hacker or criminal organization can now use this info to make purchase online using your credit card information, open up loans using your info and literally steal money from your bank account.
Three ways to spot phishing scams are to make sure that the email is addressed directly to you. Inside the email itself, it should state your full name. If it says "Dear member" or "Dear customer" it most likely is a phishing scam. Secondly, the email that you receive the message from should be the one that you have given to the company. If you have five email address and use only one email address for all your finance related business, any emails you receive on your other email addresses are likely phishing scams. Thirdly, the vast majority of financial companies will never ask you for your account information or other sensitive info through an email. Email is not privacy protected and legitimate companies will not harm their customers in such a way.
An Easy Way to Thwart All Phishing Scams
Whether you think an email is legitimate or not, never click on any hyperlink within the email, instead, simply open up a new browser window, type in the financial company's address and log into your account. If your account requires any kind of update, it will state it. Usually, most companies will send you a letter in the mail or call you directly if there is some kind of issue. But even over the phone, make sure you are talking with a representative of the company before giving out information. They should have the information themselves and not be asking you for it.

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