How to Prevent Phishing Scams
Online Security Tips
When it comes to your personal account information, you can never be too judicious to whom you provide such information. Phishing scams are not new, but they are still effective. This is because most people want to be helpful and phishing scams take advantage of this by masquerading as someone or some company that they are not.
A typical phishing scam will be an e-mail that appears to originate from a legitimate financial institution such as your bank. It generally uses language that indicates your account is on the brink of closure or someone has stolen your identity. The verbiage will always imbue a sense of urgency regarding your account.
How do you attempt to fix the problem? You simply follow the conveniently provided URL and enter your account number, password, and most likely social security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, and other commonly used security information. But, even though the URL you just followed might actually look like your financial institution’s website, if you inspect the domain name closely, you’ll see it is not. You’ll probably also notice that the site is not secure. Now that you’ve give up your account information, you can count on your money being gone very soon.
How do you stop this? First, learn to recognize. If the e-mail doesn’t address you by name, it definitely is not from your financial institution. Your bank would also probably call you if your accounts were about to be frozen or closed. Banks are also required by law to send you a physical letter letting you know about these sorts of problems.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s say a phishing e-mail somehow has your name and the last few digits of your account number, or that they call you. Remember, you can never be too judicious. Go to the Web site yourself by opening a browser and manually typing in the URL. Or, hang up the phone and call your bank back using the customer service number on your latest statement. These steps alone will ensure that you are actually dealing with your bank instead of a phisher.
Here’s a challenge to see how prepared you are for phishing scams: http://www.sonicwall.com/phishing/. If you get any questions wrong, make sure you read the explanations at the end to learn how to protect your data
Ben Howard - MCSE, Security+, CCNA Security, NSA 4011
Senior IT Associate