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How_To_Avoid_Phishing_Scams

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					How To Avoid Phishing Scams

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1132

Summary:
In today’s world the Internet is becoming as common as sliced bread. Most
people use it to send e-mails, browse for information, carry out banking
transactions, and shop. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that some people
are embracing the technology for less-than-kosher purposes. Phishing
scams in particular are a major concern. Luckily, if you want to avoid
becoming the next victim of identity theft, there are ways to protect
yourself from harm.

What exactly is phishing (pro...


Keywords:
Avoid,Phishing,Scams,free web browsers,internet


Article Body:
In today’s world the Internet is becoming as common as sliced bread. Most
people use it to send e-mails, browse for information, carry out banking
transactions, and shop. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that some people
are embracing the technology for less-than-kosher purposes. Phishing
scams in particular are a major concern. Luckily, if you want to avoid
becoming the next victim of identity theft, there are ways to protect
yourself from harm.

What exactly is phishing (pronounced “fishing”)? Phishers use e-mail,
brand hijacking, and scare tactics to catch uninformed people off guard
and steal their private information. Usually these scammers operate by
sending out a whole bunch of spam e-mails to a long list of recipients.
Each message is made to look as if it comes from a trustworthy company,
such as eBay or a big banking institution.

The second element of the e-mail involves an appeal to your emotions. To
achieve this goal, the sender claims there is a problem or crisis that
needs to be fixed as soon as possible. The e-mails use urgent,
professional language, and request personal information. They may even
direct you to a spoofed web page where you are asked to input the
requested data.

If you visit the fake website, it may appear to be authentic, and
oftentimes the true URL is even masked to hide the fact that the website
isn’t legitimate. The website asks you to provide confidential
information in order to solve the “issue,” which might include social
security numbers, account numbers, passwords, and other sensitive
information. Phishers base their attempts on the hope that a few fish in
the sea will be tricked into believing the e-mail and web page to be
genuine, and hand over their personal information without realizing their
mistake – until it’s too late.
Unfortunately, phishers are beginning to employ more insidious tactics,
such as planting spyware viruses, to try and get your personal
information. Often these viruses are designed to remain dormant until
they can easily snatch your sensitive data. Once the virus is on your
computer system, your Internet activities are monitored so that when you
visit a specific site (one that requires you to log in, for example) the
virus takes action and either diverts you to a fraudulent site or logs
your keystrokes as you enter relevant passwords, account numbers, and
other such information. If you don’t have virus and spyware protection
software, contracting a spyware virus is a very real threat.

In the face of an increase in phishing scams, it’s necessary to learn how
to avoid them, if you can. But there is good news. You can keep from
being a phishing victim, just by following a few simple measures:

Being informed about spam e-mails and spoofed websites is one of the best
ways to guard against falling victim to a phishing attempt. If you know
what to look out for and can recognize key factors in fraudulent e-mails,
you’ll be able to keep your identity as safe as possible. For instance,
spam e-mails may contain the company’s logo and appear official, but when
you look closely, there are several warning signs that can give scammers
away. Sometimes the e-mails have spelling mistakes or the language
doesn’t sound quite right. But the best indicator is the request itself –
legitimate companies never ask for you to verify your account, or to send
your account information via e-mail. If you want to make sure everything
is safe with your account, simply direct yourself to the website (without
clicking any links within the suspicious e-mail) and log in directly to
check on things, or call to confirm the sender’s identity and the truth
of the request. Do not send the information online.

Secondly, don’t become frightened by the urgency of an e-mail or feel
under pressure to answer immediately, without a second thought. Scare
tactics are common when it comes to phishing, as a means to extract
private information from unsuspecting people. Often the e-mail will
declare that your account will be shut down until you provide the
necessary data, but in reality, organizations don’t conduct business in
such a manner. Again, if you’re concerned about your account, call the
institution directly to verify the matter.

A generic e-mail request is another indicator of   a phishing scam. Because
scammers tend to send out spam to a large number   of people, the e-mails
they send aren’t usually personalized. Authentic   e-mails that arrive from
your bank or other official organization include   your name.

Never click on a link embedded in an e-mail message. Always visit the
site on your own by typing it into your web browser and visiting it
directly. That will ensure that you arrive at a legitimate site, at which
point you can log in and check on the status of your account.

And never send confidential information to the sender by filling out a
form present in the e-mail. Again, use your common sense and send the
information over the phone or by visiting the website directly.
When entering credit card numbers and other   important data online through
a website, check that the site is authentic   and utilizes encryption to
secure the information. You can verify this   by looking for a “locked”
icon in one corner of your browser. The web   address should also begin
with “https” rather than a “http.”

But be careful: some phishing sites put fake lock icons on their web
pages. For inexperienced web surfers, this might be an effective trick.
To avoid falling into this trap, ensure that the lock icon is located in
the browser’s window frame, rather than in the actual web page. And know
that a secure site doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a site is
legitimate. URL masking techniques have the ability to make fake
addresses appear to be those of actual secure companies. If you doubt the
site’s authenticity, call the site’s owner.

Another way to evade scam artists is by keeping your browser and
operating system updated. Download and install all patches and upgrades
so that you are caught up with all the latest security updates.

Install an excellent personal firewall, antivirus software, antispyware
software and antispam protection. Because these programs reduce the
amount of e-mail phishing scams that come your way, and keep malicious
viruses at a distance, you won’t have as many chances to fall prey to a
phishing attack.

If you follow these rules and know how to stay away from the bait, you
can avoid being hooked by a phishing scam. As long as you stay informed
about phishing and keep one step ahead of the game, as tactics evolve
with the times, you’ll be swimming safer waters.

				
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posted:3/1/2010
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