Phishing scams continue to be an ongoing problem around the world, but the US is definitely the hardest hit. Do not let yourself fall victim to these criminals who send spam with misleading identification as to who the sender actually is. They often come from financial institutions, so be careful – very careful.
Phishing scams may take many forms, but they usually start with an e-mail, instant message or pop-up window asking you to update your personal information. One of the following often accompanies this request:
- A threat or warning that failure to update your information will result in the closure of an account or cancellation of a subscription
- An offer of a prize or some other form of financial compensation
- A note that you have received pictures or an instant greeting
- A confirmation of an online purchase
Phishing attempts may masquerade as official notifications from reputable companies, such as your bank, your credit card company, or even your ISP. The message will usually encourage you to click on a link that takes you to a “copycat” Web site designed to look identical to a legitimate site. Such copycat sites are also known as “spoofed” sites.
Once at the spoofed site, you may be asked to enter your screen name or username and password, your credit card number and expiration date, your Social Security number, or other personal information. Entering this information can give the phisher access to your account to send spam, steal your identity, make fraudulent purchases or otherwise use your identity.
If you believe you have given away your billing information:
- First, notify the bank or other business that holds your account.
- Then visit the FTC’s National Resource for Identity Theft Web site at http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/.
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