Phishing is the name for the scam where an identity thief lures you through a phony email that purports to be from a legitimate source such as your bank, a company with which you do business or even the IRS or some other governmental agency to a phony website that looks like the website of that legitimate company, but actually is just a scam intended to entice you into providing personal information that can lead to your identity being stolen. Often there will be links in these phishing emails or text messages which you are advised to click on which will take you to a legitimate looking page where you are prompted to provide your personal information. In other instances, clicking on the link will download malware such as keystroke logging programs that, once installed on your computer, will provide the scammer with all of your personal information from your computer. This information can be used to make you a victim of identity theft or even to empty your bank accounts if you use your computer for online banking.
In almost all of the major data breaches of recent years, the malware was downloaded when unwary employees clicked on links in phishing emails. Phishing emails are always trying to convince you to open the email and click on the link with subject lines designed to get you to open the email. Here is a list compiled by Fraudwatch International, a leading online protection company of some of the most effective phishing emails indicating from whom they are purported to be sent and the content of the subject line.
Bank of America – Important Notice
Westpac Bank – Your Account Has Been Blocked
PayPal – Resolve remote access
Chase Bank – INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR ACCOUNT
Apple Store – About your last Transaction
Wells Fargo Bank – Deposit Hold Alert
Never click on a link to a website unless you are totally sure that it is legitimate. Trust me you can’t trust anyone. Even if you receive an email from someone you trust, it may not be from them at all, but rather from someone who has hijacked their email or even if it is from them, they may have, in turn, fallen prey to a scam artist and may be passing along dangerous malware without even knowing it. Never click on a link unless you have confirmed that it is legitimate. Another good preventative step is to install antiphishing software on your computer to warn you before going to a website that may be tainted. A good, free antiphishing software program can be found at http://toolbar.netcraft.com/