Phishing, as I have described on Scamicide and in my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age” is the name for the tactic used by identity thieves by which you are lured to a phony website to provide information used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Phishing often starts with an email from a company with you do business or a federal or state agency.  The email indicates that there is some problem or other matter to which you must give your immediate attention and a link is provided for you to purportedly go to the website of the company or agency, however, in fact, you are either sent to a phony website for the company or agency where information is solicited that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft or, even worse, by clicking on the link you download a keystroke logging malware program that steals all of the information from your computer including your Social Security number, credit card number, passwords and other information used to also make you a victim of identity theft.

Recently, I received an email purportedly from Fidelity Investments.  As phishing attempts go, this one was pretty flawed.  The email address from which it came was not an email address of Fidelity Investments.  In fact, it was that of a private person who most likely was a part of a botnet by which his computer was being manipulated by an identity thief.  If you want more information about botnets, you can check out the archives of Scamicide or read about them in my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age.”  Other flaws in the phishing email were the lack of my name appearing anywhere which indicates that it is just a general phishing email sent out to many people by the identity thief, and the lack of a Fidelity logo.

Here is a copy of the email I received.  DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK.

“Account Status NotificationWe have noticed unusual activity on your account. Due to this, we need you to verify your account information for more efficient use of our Banking system: Please confirm your account information today by clicking on the link below: Adviser
© Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC. All rights reserved”

Never click on links in emails unless you are sure they are legitimate.  Unfortunately, you can never be sure when you receive an email if the email is legitimate so you should always be skeptical and make it a habit not to click on links until you have verified that they are legitimate by contacting the company or agency that is indicated as having sent the email to confirm whether or not the email and link are legitimate.  Look for the telltale signs that it is a phony, such as an email address for the sender that is not that of the real company or agency and the failure to direct the email to you directly by name.  You can contact the company or agency by phone or email directly to confirm whether or not the email you receive was legitimate.  Finally keep your Firewall and security software up to date to help protect you from viruses and malware.  Security software is certainly not perfect, but it does help.