phenomenon of phishing — getting tricked through email into revealing your
personal information to a scammer — has been around since the mid-1990s. But
people still are getting caught, and phishers still are sending out their bait.
"phishing" is a relatively new coinage, deliberately meant to sound
like "fishing" because bait is used to try to catch victims.
to avoid getting caught.
emails try to excite you or scare you into doing stupid things such as opening
an attachment that loads malware onto your computer or clicking on a link that
takes you to a fake website. The malware might spy on you, capturing your
keystrokes to steal your login and password to your bank. The fake site might
look just like your real credit card site, prompting you to type in your login
If you see
a message, "You've won a prize!" and you never entered that contest,
chances are extremely high you're being preyed upon. If you see a message that
your information has been stolen and you should "click here," chances
are extremely high that you're being preyed upon. If you see a message that
Microsoft has remotely detected a virus on your PC, chances are extremely high
that you're being preyed upon.
clicking on a link or opening an attachment, use your web browser to go to the
company's website, log in as you normally would, and check if you have any
using a laptop or desktop PC, you can "mouse over" a questionable
link to see what web address it will take you to. Phishers often use the
correct web address as the name of the link but code the link to take you to
the bogus address. If the two aren't the same, chances are extremely high
you're being directed to a phishing site.
especially wary of web addresses that include the @ symbol or email messages
that ask you to click on an image. You also should be careful when typing web
addresses into your browser so a typo doesn't land you at a phishing site by
mistake. Using a bookmark or favorite to navigate to the site will prevent
you can call and talk to customer support. Look up the company's phone number
yourself rather than using a number provided in an email message.
on Facebook and other social networking sites. Scammers troll these waters
looking for innocents to bait, tricking them into revealing financial
information, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, and so on.
web browser up-to-date, whether you use Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet
Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or any other. Modern browsers include some phishing
security software that provides additional phishing safeguards, such as Norton
Security (www.symantec.com). Alternately, you can use a free browser add-on such
as McAfee SiteAdvisor (www.mcafee.com/siteadvisor). Though these protections aren't
foolproof, they can warn you if a site you're about to visit is suspected of
tip-offs are more obvious. If a questionable email includes incorrect spelling
and grammar, chances are it's from a scammer from abroad whose native language
isn't English. If the email's "To" field is blank or if the
salutation reads something like, "Hello, [blank]," chances are it's
part of a mass emailing from someone more malicious than sophisticated.
be savvy enough to avoid the above mistakes. Make sure family members, friends,
and coworkers are as well. Nobody wants to spend tedious hours trying to
straighten out the mess after a scammer has stolen their identity.
Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book
Straight Talk About the Information
can be reached at
email@example.com or reidgold.com.