One of the most popular online frauds is a phishing fraud. What happens here is that the people running this fraud usually send you an email from a website that you normally trust, such as PayPal, your bank, credit card companies, etc. In the email they tell you that your account information needs to be verified or the account will be closed or you need to update your account info. Many times the email will include a link that will take you to a authentic looking website for you to enter in your information. Most of the information they are asking for is personal and can be used to steal your identity. One of the worst things about the phishing scam is that the emails all look very legitimate and sometimes it is actually really hard to tell if the email is a scam or if it is a legitimate email. But the good news is that there are things that you can do to recognize phishing so that you don’t become a victim.
Difficulty rating: Easy
The first thing that you are going to need to do to protect yourself from online scams and frauds is to become familiar with the most popular online scams and frauds. You don’t need to know about all of the various online scams and frauds because most of the time the newer scams and frauds are spin offs from the older more popular scams and frauds.
The next thing that you need to do is to check out any companies that you are going to be doing business with, especially if you have never heard of that company before. If the company contacts you by email with a number to call when you call that number you should ask for more information about the company and if they can give you any referrals. Businesses who are legit will give you numerous referrals not to mention the fact that they will be happy to provide you with extra information about the company. But you still want to check the company out with the Better Business Bureau to make sure that they are legit.
If you are dealing with an email that is asking you to click on a link to update your account info or to verify certain information the one thing that you don’t want to do is to click on that link. If the email is from a company that you have accounts with what you will want to do is open up a new browser and type in the web address directly, never use a link in an email to go to the website.
If the email or website is asking you to enter in private, personal information, such as your full name, social security number, address, date of birth or mother’s maiden name you do not want to enter in any of that information. The chances that they are trying to get your personal information so that they can steal your identity are high.
Rather than clicking on the link or entering in personal information you are going to want to report the fraudulent email to the correct department. This can actually be the FBI, the fraud department within a business or somebody else.
You are also going to want to make sure that you have the latest antivirus software downloaded onto your computer. Many of these programs are now able to recognize phishing scams so they can help protect you.
Microsoft also offers a program that you can download that recognizes the most common phishing scams. It is a phishing filter and you can download it for free at Microsoft.
If in doubt you can go to websites like Snopes to see if the email is legit or if it is a phishing scam.
But something that you need to keep in mind is that your best protection against phishing and recognizing phishing is yourself.